What do the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 in Canada have in common? The answer: an early replay of the previous edition's title decider.
While the Netherlands were drawn in the same section as Spain on Brazilian soil, the first match in Group B at Canada 2014 will be a meeting between Germany and USA. This fixture is particularly special as it was played twice during the 2012 tournament in Japan. Die Nationalelf’s youngsters won the two sides’ first game 3-0, but it was the Americans who had reason to celebrate when they went head-to-head again 12 days later.
“Of course we were sad not to have won the final in Japan that time around, but the players put in a good performance and that’s extremely important,” Maren Meinert, Germany’s U-20 women’s coach both then and now, told FIFA.com ahead of Tuesday’s game. “Matches against USA are always very physical encounters in which you have to give everything.”
Going in with confidence
“We need three good games to make it out of the group stages,” Meinert continued. “We’re expecting USA to give us a tough time in our opening match. We’ve got to be well prepared and totally focused in this match and the two that follow it. I expect we’ll have to push ourselves to the limit in every game to have a chance of progressing.”
Good preparation is also the key to success for US coach Michelle French. “Any team that makes the World Cup has to have great technical and tactical ability,” she explained. “The preparation will be different for each of the teams, but of course everyone always wants to have a good start in the first game. We feel confident and prepared.”
This confidence has also rubbed off on the American players ahead of their encounter with Die Nationalelf. “Obviously, it’s the first game and you always want to start well,” said Stars and Stripes forward Lindsey Horan. “There’s a little bit more pressure because Germany are such a great team, but no matter which team we play first we need to come out and set a standard and do whatever we can to win. That’s a given, but we respect the fact that Germany are a great team and we know they’ll be super motivated to play us as well.”
Anticipation levels rising
Horan’s theory was confirmed by German youth international Manjou Wilde when asked about the upcoming Group B showdown. “Of course USA have a special appeal, and that gives us extra motivation when playing against them, because they’re always the biggest opponents we go up against. In any case, I’m looking forward to the game,” the defender said.
“It’s always special to face USA in the first match,” team-mate Lena Petermann added. “Especially as the last time was the 2012 final. We’re looking forward to this meeting and we’ll give it our all.”
Both teams are in no doubt that they need to get their campaigns off to a strong start with a good result. The stage is now set for a fascinating encounter between the three-time U-20 Women’s World Cup champions from the USA and two-time victors Germany.