Matchday one came and went in UEFA European Under-17 Championship Group A leaving Germany top of the pile – the only team to kick off on Monday with three points. Georgia prop up the table, but a draw between Iceland and France means the group is wide open heading into the second round of matches.
There are contrasting views in the Domzale dugouts ahead of France versus Georgia. Les Bleus coach Jean-Claude Giuntini goes into the game looking for a little bit more from his charges, while Vasil Maisuradze wants the same application that had German backs to the wall in the first 45 minutes of their Group A opener.
"I know that our second match will be a very difficult one," said Giuntini. "We must reach the level of this competition, both in our performances and our mental strength. We haven't yet played football to the previous standard set by this team, and I want to look at my players with pleasure and pride at their application."
Maisuradze was delighted with his charges' first performance, saying they "did everything right", and has targeted the France fixture as one his team can win.
"We had an attacking mentality against Germany and we will play that way against France. We will keep the same high tempo and take the game to them and I believe we possess enough commitment to succeed."
The semi-finals are within sight for Germany, as another three points will be sufficient to secure qualification from Group A. Coach Stefan Böger hopes his players have "got the nerves out of their system" but knows that his team are by no means home and hosed unless they manage to replicate the desire and fluidity that arrived belatedly against Georgia.
"It was very important to win the first game," said Böger. "Not just for the points but for the confidence boost. Now I hope we can do what we did in the second half against Georgia over 80 minutes against Iceland; to play quickly, create chances and be strong defensively."
After earning a surprise point in their first match against France, a confident Iceland are now likely to offer an even tougher test to Germany as qualification becomes a real possibility with a positive result. Coach Gunnar Gudmundsson is aware his youngsters face a "challenge" against a team that has 25 wins from their last 26 matches, but he has done his homework and feels confident.
"We have a hard game ahead, but I don't think there is an easy one in this group," he said. "Every team has a different style. It is a new challenge to play against the Germans. They are perhaps not as fast as France, but strong defensively and technically very good with quick counterattacks.
"I think we can get a good result. We just have to work hard and believe in ourselves like we did against France."
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