Finally the long wait has come to an end. Hosts and defending champions Germany are hoping to kick off the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ with a bang this Sunday in front of a record crowd at the legendary Berlin Olympiastadion. Victory is anything but a foregone conclusion, however, with opponents Canada determined to spoil the party on the back of their CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup triumph in 2010.
The statistics clearly favour the Germans, who have won each of their nine previous internationals against Canada. The last meeting between the two sides was a friendly encounter in Dresden in September 2010 in which Birgit Prinz and Co. romped to a convincing 5-0 victory. Naturally the North Americans, led by star striker Christine Sinclair, are determined to put an end to that miserable run, especially as they enter the tournament with perhaps the finest generation of players in their history, not to mention a highest-ever FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking placing of sixth. Furthermore, the pressure of expectation weighs heavy upon the German stars, who have won each of their last five friendly matches with a cumulative goal difference of 23:0.
The fixture promises to be an attractive attacking spectacle made all the more interesting by the tactical approaches of both coaches. The reigning champions boast a good mix of hungry young talents such as midfielder Kim Kulig and experienced campaigners like FIFA Women's World Cup record goalscorer Birgit Prinz and will be attempting to put their opponents under pressure from the off. Meanwhile Canada can draw upon the expert knowledge of coach Carolina Morace as they try to contain the German front line whilst also launching speedy counterattacks of their own. Physically the sides are on a par, so it is more than likely that the tournament's Opening Match will be settled by individual class.
0 – In five previous FIFA Women's World Cup Opening Matches there has never been a draw. Nor has the losing team ever scored a goal.
"I think Canada are a very dangerous side. Their coach Carolina Morace has brought a certain European mentality and style to the team. The Canadians play courageously and they certainly don't lack fight. They also have a lightning-quick striker in Christine Sinclair, one of the best players in the world."
Germany defender Ariane Hingst in an interview with FIFA.com
"The opening match is going to be one of these games that you look back on in ten to 15 years and think: 'That was incredible and I was a part of it!'. I'm going to be both nervous and excited, but there's also going to be a certain amount of disbelief that women's football has come so far. 75,000 people are coming to see the game. Unbelievable!"
Canada striker Christine Sinclair in an interview with FIFA.com