As the reigning world and European champions, Germany will travel to the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 with high hopes of retaining their title. Silvia Neid's side have been performing at a consistently high level in recent years, with only the USA, China PR (twice), Norway and Australia having got the better of them. Above and beyond the obvious advantage of possessing world-class talents such as midfielder Renate Lingor and striker Birgit Prinz, the German squad has strength in depth perhaps unrivalled in the women's game.

That was certainly borne out in the China 2007 qualifiers, where Germany netted 31 goals in their eight group matches, with no fewer than 12 different players getting their names on the scoresheet. The team certainly has no shortage of forwards, being able to call on the likes of Petra Wimbersky, Conny Pohlers, Sandra Smisek and Martina Mueller in addition to Prinz. Playmaker Renate Lingor is ably assisted in midfield by Kerstin Garefrekes, who herself notched four goals in the qualifying round.

The reigning champions also look strong in the goalkeeping department, where they can count on Silke Rottenberg and her understudy Nadine Angerer, a talented shot-stopper who would be first choice between the posts for most other teams. Germany's impressive defence only conceded three goals in qualifying, Kerstin Stegemann and her colleagues keeping the opposition forwards at bay without too much difficulty. However, that statistic can also be partly attributed to the stature of their group opponents, and the finals in China are sure to be a different story altogether.

Qualifying
Germany qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 with an unblemished record, wining all eight games in a group that included Russia, Switzerland, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. The Germans dominated their opponents technically, tactically and physically, and rarely allowed themselves to be put under pressure - something their final goal difference of plus-28 bears testimony to. The Germans kicked-off their campaign with a comprehensive 5-1 drubbing of Russia, nominally their strongest rivals, then followed that up with 4-0 home wins over Scotland and Switzerland.

The Republic of Ireland provided stiffer resistance, going down 1-0 in Germany before losing the return fixture 3-0 in Dublin. Germany's 6-0 win in Switzerland was not quite as easy as the score suggests, with the home side holding the visitors to a single goal for much of the game before running out of steam late on.

Silvia Neid's side then overran Scotland 5-0 on their own territory before wrapping up the campaign with a 3-2 victory away to Russia, where their thoughts may already have been on China as they allowed the hosts back into the match with two late goals. Top scorer for the Germans in qualifying was two-time FIFA Women's World Player of the Year Birgit Prinz, with eight goals.

Coach
Coach Silvia Neid took over the reins of the national team in July 2005, having been assistant to Tina Theune-Meyer, who stepped down after leading Germany to victory at the UEFA European Championships in England. Prior to that, Neid was in charge of Germany's U-19 side, steering them to the world title at Thailand 2004. She has been on the German Football Association's coaching staff since 1996.

Neid ranks alongside Doris Fitschen and Martina Voss as one of Germany's most successful women footballers. As a player, she made 111 international appearances, winning three UEFA European Championships, in 1989, 1991 and 1995, the year she was also a member of the side that lost in the FIFA Women's World Cup final. At club level she won seven German league titles as well as six cup-winners medals.
With Germany currently holding both the world and European titles, Neid knows she has a hard act to follow. One of her main aims is to gradually introduce fresh talent into an established line-up, while keeping Germany at the very top of women's football.

Previous Tournament Record at FIFA Women's World Cups

  • 4th place at the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup China 1991

  • Runners-up at the FIFA Women's World Cup Sweden 1995

  • Quarter-finalists at the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 1999

  • Winners of the FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003
What they said...
"I'm happy we made it through qualifying, and without losing a game. That's always the first task to be completed," German coach Silvia Neid.