Europe’s various leagues are slowly building momentum again for the year with the arrival of warmer weather. Germany and Switzerland are underway following the mid-season hiatus, while in Italy the frontrunners seem in unstoppable form. With only minimal club activity over recent days, FIFA.com also looks at some international action ahead of a busy week on the national team front, including an impressive start to a new era for an unfamiliar looking USA.
Internationals: New look USA start brightly
Tom Sermanni’s reign as coach of Olympic champions and world No1 USA started in winning fashion as the Stars and Stripes eased past Scotland 4-1 on Saturday. The Americans' side featured three debutants, one of whom – Christen Press - scored a first-half brace in Jacksonville, Florida. Shannon Boxx and Sydney Leroux scored in the second period, book-ending a goal from Scotland’s star attacker, Kim Little. In an odd twist, Sermanni’s first match was against the country of his birth who, in turn, are coached by a Swede, the country of birth of the USA’s previous coach, Pia Sundhage. Meanwhile, the Netherlands kick-started their build-up to July's UEFA Women’s EURO with a morale-boosting 3-2 win over neighbours Belgium in Waregem, with debutant Priscilla de Vos firing home a superb extra-time winner. A host of international matches will be played in midweek, with Germany's visit to France among the highlights.
Germany: Slow burn in the cold
The low-key resumption following the mid-winter break in Germany continued over the weekend, with again just one Bundesliga match played. Caroline Abbe’s opener for Freiburg was cancelled out by a goal from Bayer Leverkusen’s Germany FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup skipper Ramona Petzelberger, as the contest between two mid-table sides ended in parity. Second-placed Turbine Potsdam’s home encounter with struggling Sindelfingen was postponed. League leaders Wolfsburg, however, took the field and eased into the last four of the cup with a 3-0 win over Jena. Conny Pohlers hit a quickfire second-half double to set up a meeting with Freiburg, while Potsdam will meet holders Bayern Munich in next month’s semi-finals.
Italy: Top two march on
Leaders Torres continued their fine campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win at Grifo Perugia to maintain their four-point lead at the summit. Teenager Eleonora Piacezzi scored a double for the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-finalists, who have now dropped just four points from a possible 60. Second-placed Tavagnacco continued their dogged pursuit of the champions with a 2-0 triumph over Riviera di Romagna. Brescia, however, fell further behind the leading pair after being held 1-1 on their visit south to a Napoli team who also took points off high-flying Torres last month.
Top three: Torres (56 points), Tavagnacco (52), Brescia (46)
Switzerland: Return to action
Another European league building momentum for the second half of the campaign is Switzerland, with the season recommencing with two matches ahead of a full schedule next weekend. Mid-table sides St Gallen and Staad resumed after the mid-season interval with victories over Grasshoppers and Thun respectively. Ambitious frontrunners FC Zurich visit Yverdon next weekend seeking to protect a 100 per cent record after 14 rounds.
Top three: FC Zurich (42), Young Boys (29), Kriens (23)