Samba time for the women's game

The announcement over the tannoy midway through the second half at the Frankfurter Arena confirmed what everyone suspected; that few teams in women's football can pull the fans in like Brazil and Germany.  44,825 spectators flocked to see the reigning world champions go head to head with their biggest rivals in an entertaining friendly. The huge attendance was a new record for a women's match in Europe and had the organisers jumping for joy along with the partying fans.

It proved to be an incredible occasion for the women's game and had it been up to the delighted fans, the evening's events would have carried on long into the night. Typically, the sizeable Brazilian contingent made their presence felt throughout with their infectious samba beats, while fans on both sides kept the entertainment levels up with Mexican wave after Mexican wave.

Marta makes a date
Given the joyous atmosphere in the stands, it was only right that honours should be even on the pitch, with the two sides playing out a keenly contested 1-1 draw - a result that ensured the only winner in Frankfurt on Wednesday was the women's game. And if the general air of excitement and enthusiasm was anything to go by, not to mention the quality displayed on the pitch, the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™ looks set to be one big celebration.      

"Seeing 45,000 people turn up to cheer us on has made my team-mates and I realise that we simply have to come back here in two years time for the World Cup final," Brazilian star Marta told FIFA.com at the final whistle, her eyes shining with excitement. "I hope the stadiums will be just as full in 2011."

Neid expectant
Germany coach Silvia Neid was equally effusive afterwards. "The atmosphere was just fantastic. It's been wonderful for us to play in conditions like this and we really can't wait to take part in the next World Cup."

The only flat note on a gala evening for the 2011 hosts was the broken rib suffered by striker Birgit Prinz, an injury that caused her to go off at the interval and has brought an untimely end to her season.

Prinz's departure from the field of play at least gave some of her team-mates the chance to shine, chief among them Anja Mittag, who opened the scoring with her first goal on international duty after eight months of trying. The 23-year-old forward is at the forefront of a talented and ambitious new wave of players who will have a big part to play in Germany's title defence. Not to be outdone, the Brazilians, who lie second in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women's World Ranking, have an exciting crop of youngsters themselves, as the youthful Maurine showed in cancelling out Mittag's opener.

Let the good times roll again
Among the crowd was the General Secretary of the German Football Association, Wolfgang Niersbach, who watched the game in the esteemed company of FIFA Executive Committee member Franz Beckenbauer. With 795 days to go until Germany 2011 kicks off, Mr Niersbach could barely conceal his satisfaction. "It makes me so happy tonight to see that the country is ready to relive the fairytale of 2006," he said. "The smiling children, the relaxed and festive atmosphere and the excellent performance of our team have brought the 2006 World Cup right back for me. The 2011 Women's World Cup is well and truly under way."    

The duel of champions also provided a fitting occasion for the unveiling of the official slogan of the forthcoming FIFA Women's World Cup: THE BEAUTIFUL SIDE OF 20ELEVEN. And at the conclusion of an unforgettable evening at the stadium that will host the final in two years' time, few would argue that women's football is nothing if not beautiful.