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The past
Germany missed out on the final at the last FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan two years ago when coach Anouschka Bernard’s side went down 2-1 to Korea DPR in the semis, before being narrowly defeated 1-0 by Ghana in the third-place play-off. Prior to that they had finished as group winners thanks to a 2-1 win over Ghana, a 1-1 draw with China PR and an assured 5-2 triumph over Uruguay, which they followed with a 2-1 defeat of Brazil in the quarters. At the 2010 edition in Trinidad and Tobago, Germany only reached the quarter-final stage, bowing out after a 1-0 loss to Korea DPR. The team’s best performance in this event came at the inaugural edition in New Zealand in 2008. As in 2012, they fell at the penultimate hurdle with a 2-1 loss to USA, but completed the competition in third place after a 3-0 victory over England in their play-off match.

The present
For the second time in succession, the Nationalmannschaft will travel to the U-17 Women’s World Cup as European champions, the team having triumphed in the UEFA European Women’s U-17 Championship for a record fourth time after previously lifting the trophy in 2008, 2009 and 2012. Bernhard’s team saw off Italy 1-0 in the semi-final to book their ticket to the World Cup finals in Costa Rica. The decider against Spain went all the way to a penalty shoot-out (as did the 2012 final against France), which they duly won 3-1. “We’re unbelievably proud of the girls’ performance over the last two weeks. We didn’t just come to play at this tournament; it was a great experience for developing the girls as individuals too. That’s extremely important and they did a great job of it,” said Bernhard after victory in the final.

The future
The U-17 Women’s World Cup has long been a platform for developing future senior internationals. For example, Sara Dabritz made her senior debut in June 2013 after making a name for herself in Azerbaijan. Just weeks later, Dabritz was celebrating victory in the UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 with the women’s team after receiving a call-up from national team coach Silvia Neid. Other U-17 alumni currently playing in the senior squad include Dzsenifer Marozsan, Svenja Huth, Almuth Schult and Alexandra Popp from the 2008 U-17 World Cup squad, and Lena Lotzen and Luisa Wensing from the 2010 World Cup.