With England, Sweden, France and Norway having already qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ alongside host nation Germany, four other UEFA teams - Italy, Denmark, Ukraine and Switzerland - now find themselves with a final chance of making it to the showpiece event next summer.
It is something of a consolation round, with the four losers of the recent European play-offs set to take part in a mini knock-out competition, the winner of which will go on to play the third-placed team from North and Central America and the Caribbean in November for a FIFA Women's World Cup slot. Ukraine are at home to Italy on Saturday while Denmark host Switzerland the following day, with the return matches the following Wednesday and Thursday.
Switzerland hopeful, Italy determined
Italy and Denmark are very much the favourites of these virtual semi-finals, since they will be facing opponents who have yet to qualify for a final phase. Swiss international Martina Moser sees the fact that they are underdogs as an advantage, however, as she told FIFA.com. "We're not hiding from anyone. We've got a good blend of talent and experience in our squad, so there's no reason why we can't achieve the impossible," said the 24-year-old, who plays for VfL Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga.
Italy on the other hand are confident they will be able to qualify for their first FIFA Women's World Cup since 1999, despite coming up just short in the play-offs against France. "Everyone has to take us seriously now," coach Pietro Ghedin told FIFA.com. "Let me make it quite clear: my squad have come out of their shells and they're now playing their own brand of football," added the 57-year-old former defender, who turned out for the likes of Fiorentina and Lazio during his playing days.