A meeting between England and Germany is one of the biggest on the men's footballing calendar. Over the years, these two European powers have staged some epic battles, both scoring crucial victories at their rivals' expense.
In women's football, however, this fixture had a distinctly one-sided look to it heading into 2007. In fact, of their 16 meetings prior to FIFA Women's World Cup year, all had ended in German victories. But a contest in Guangdong in January was to bring to an end to this statistic. In the Four Nations Tournament, Hope Powell's side took the game to their formidable adversaries and their efforts were rewarded in the form of a morale-boosting 0-0 draw.
It was a testament to the side's arresting progress over the past couple of years and, moreover, a result that has left England coach Hope Powell confident that her charges are equipped to challenge the sport's elite at this FIFA Women's World Cup. "I think the girls have come a long way in terms of overall belief and in what they've achieved over the last 18 months. And certainly following the game against Japan they feel confident and certainly have a belief in what they're doing," she said.
"They're aiming high, which is no bad thing, and obviously want to do well in this competition," Powell continued. "At the moment, confidence is high. Now we just want to deliver on the day. We can certainly compete. I think we can compete now with the best teams in the world, I think we've proved that in recent games. I hope I don't jinx myself by saying that. But we are progressing and the real test will be on Friday."
Shanghai is the venue for the encounter and, after receiving such a warm welcome from the Hongkou Football Stadium crowd against Japan on Tuesday, Powell is relishing a return visit before jetting off to Chengdu for their final Group A contest against Argentina. "The atmosphere was fantastic (against Japan). I thought it was great," Powell enthused. "The support really got behind England, that's what it felt like at the time. It was a great stadium to play in for the players, a great atmosphere and I'm looking forward to going there on Friday."
Despite Germany's remarkable 11-0 win against Argentina, Powell can take encouragement from January's goalless draw with the reigning European and defending world champions. She is hopeful her charges can repeat that level of performance once more. "We will try to attack (and) look to score goals," she said, "but we know so will Germany. I think we have to be diligent when we're defending, and try and be a bit more clinical when we're attacking."