Germany seize European crown, France complete India-bound trio

After being cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UEFA Women’s U-17 Championship made a triumphant comeback to the big stage, and Germany were ready and waiting.

The defending champions made it eight titles from nine finals, squeezing past Spain 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out after the match ended in a 2-2 draw.

In qualifying for the final, Germany and Spain had already won the right to take part in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2022™, being held from 11-30 October this year.

How the final was won

Germany opened the scoring through Svea Stoldt after a quarter of an hour, only for Spain – four-time European U-17 winners and reigning world champions – to equalise before the break via captain Marina Artero, with Carla Camacho then giving them the lead shortly after the hour mark.

Friederike Kromp’s team equalised two minutes before the final whistle thanks to a Mara Alber strike to send the tie into penalties. Germany goalkeeper Eve Boettcher then rose to the occasion, saving three penalties in the shoot-out to secure her side the trophy.

“Penalties are about who is the lucky one, but the girls put in an unbelievable performance," Kromp said afterwards. "We knew it was going to be a tough game, the fifth in 12 days. Both teams were so exhausted; it was so intense. I think the first half was the best we have seen here; it was such a high-level performance from both. But we kept believing and sometimes we deserve it and I am so proud of my girls.”

France bag bronze

Earlier in the day, another spot at India 2022 was up for grabs, and it went the way of France. Les Bleuettes defeated the Netherlands 2-0 in the third-place play-off thanks to a pair of first-half goals from Fanny Rossi and Lucie Calba.

The win booked their ticket for October’s showpiece event, where they will be hoping to go all the way and win the World Cup, as they did back in 2012 in Azerbaijan.

"Appearing at a World Cup is great for the players," said a delighted French coach Cecile Locatelli. "You only have to look at the World Cup we won in 2012 – lots of the players are now representing us at full international level. It’s a great experience, and for the staff and the coaches, it’s a very good competition to learn how to help young players progress."

ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - MAY 12: The players of Germany celebrate the victory during the UEFA Under17 European Championship Qualifier Semi Final match between Germany U17 and France U17 on May 12, 2022 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Nikola Krstic/MB Media/Getty Images)

Stats

44 – Spain had 92 shots throughout the tournament compared with 85 for Germany. Spain were also more accurate, with 44 shots on target, Germany managing just 30.

16 – Spain were also the most prolific of the eight finalists, finding the back of the net on 16 occasions. Germany scored nine times.

3 – Four players finished as joint top-scorers with three goals: Germany’s Mara Alber, Spain’s Carla Camacho, Fieke Kroese of the Netherlands and finally Denmark’s Alma Aagaard, who amassed her tally in just three matches compared with five for the others, and also recorded two assists.

1 – This was the first ever appearance at an U-17 Women’s EURO for host nation Bosnia.

0 – Spain and Germany did not concede a single goal en route to the final. Boettcher kept two clean sheets in the group stage (with Lina Altenburg, who replaced her for the third match against Bosnia, doing likewise), and though she let two goals in during the final, she went on to save three penalties in the shoot-out.

Looking back

12 – Of the 13 times that the tournament has been held to date, this was the 12th time Germany had participated in it. It was also their eighth overall win: Spain by comparison have won the competition four times in 11 attempts.

9 – The record goal-scorer at a single tournament is Shekiera Martinez. Now aged 20 and playing up front for FFC Frankfurt, she scored an incredible nine goals for Germany in 2018.

1 – Other than Germany and Spain, only one other team has ever won the U-17 Women’s EURO. That was Poland, who lifted the trophy at the 2013 edition, when there were four teams in the final phase, held in Nyon, Switzerland. Poland defeated Sweden 1-0 in the final.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - MAY 30: The trophy is being displayed during the Official Draw for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup on May 30, 2018 at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Robert Hradil - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

What happens next?

All but one confederation have now determined their entrants for this year's FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, with the European trio joining China PR, Japan, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and hosts India. The sole exception is Africa, where three berths will be fought over by Cameroon, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana and Morocco ahead of the India 2022 draw on 24 June.