Champions kick off China party
© AFP

Getting this year's FIFA Women's World Cup under way in style in Shanghai on Monday is a genuine clash of the champions. Germany, the reigning world and European title-holders, face South American champions Argentina in the tournament's Opening Match and they should find the Albiceleste a quite different proposition to four years ago in the United States. No longer starry-eyed newcomers to the world stage, coach Carlos Borrello's charges are determined to pull off the first big shock of China 2007.

The match
Germany-Argentina, Shanghai, 10 September, 20:00 (local time)

The stakes
While both sides hold their respective continental crowns, the level of expectation in the rival camps could not be more different. According to reports from Germany's inner circle, the Europeans are fully focused on a single objective: to successfully defend the title they won at USA 2003. Coach Borrello's Argentina squad, set to make only their second appearance at the elite event, have set their sights somewhat lower. After three defeats in three games four years ago, the Albiceleste are determined to pick up their first points at this level.

The players
Germany should be at full strength for Monday's match, with defender Kerstin Stegemann expected to shake off a heavy cold in time to feature. Argentina coach Borello is without the suspended Catalina Perez but, more significantly, has lost the services of midfielder Mariela Coronel, out of the tournament because of a knee injury. Emilia Mendieta has taken her place.

The past
The only previous meeting between the two sides at this tournament came in Group C at USA 2003, eventual winners Germany recording an emphatic 6-1 win.

The birthday
On Sunday 9 September, on the eve of the Argentina game, Germany defender Saskia Bartusiak will celebrate her quarter century.

The words
The first game is always decisive at this tournament and it's clear we're up against dangerous opponents. It's true that we beat Argentina comfortably in 2003, but you can't compare the two games. They beat Brazil recently, which clearly proves how strong they are at the moment - Renate Lingor, Germany midfielder

Contrary to what people might think, my players were pleased to hear they'd be facing Germany. They want revenge for what happened four years ago and, honestly, I have to say that my players are showing a great deal of hunger for sporting success. We're not going to go down without a fight, you can be sure of that - Carlos Borrello, Argentina coach