In a mouth-watering opening to Group F, Germany meet Brazil in a re-run of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2007 final, simultaneously a head-to-head between the two gold medal favourites. The Shanghai final last year ended in a narrow 2-0 win for the Europeans.
Neither side has ever claimed Olympic gold, so a great deal more than mere prestige is at stake in the very first game in Shenyang. The second match sees Nigeria tackle in-form Korea DPR. After winning the FIFA U-20 World Cup Russia 2006 and reaching the quarter-finals at last year’s global showdown, the Asians are keen to mark their first Olympics with a place in the next round, although the composition of the group means the task is daunting to say the least.
Germany-Brazil, Wednesday 6 August, 17.00 (local time)
Korea DPR-Nigeria, Wednesday 6 August, 19.45 (local time)
On paper, Brazil and Germany are the clear favourites in the section, so failure to make the quarter-finals would be a bitter disappointment for both. The teams have met eight times in the past, Germany holding the upper hand with four victories to three draws and the Brazilians’ solitary triumph at the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship 2002. A win for either side would secure pole position in the race for top spot in the section.
Nigeria and Korea DPR have only crossed swords three times, the Asians winning twice and the Africans once, a 2-1 success at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 1999. The Koreans certainly go into the match as favourites on the back of their steady improvement in recent years.
The players to watch: Prinz (GER) & Marta (BRA)
All eyes at the Olympic Sports Center, the renamed Wu Lihe stadium, will be on the personal duel between two-time and current World Player of the Year Marta, and three-time winner of the accolade Birgit Prinz. Both teams’ defenders will also need to watch like hawks as these two outstanding players go in search of goals.
The numbers game
Brazil have never lost their opening match at the Olympics, whereas Germany have always scored a minimum of three goals in their first match at the tournament up to now.
"This team definitely has the talent to win the gold medal. All we need is a little bit of the luck we’ve not had up to now," Brazil striker Marta.
"African footballers love to improvise and keep the ball on the deck, and we’re no different. We’re capable of beating anyone on a good day. We just need to impose our way of playing and trust in our instincts," Nigeria striker Cynthia Uwak.