Fatmire Bajramaj was the star as Germany began UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualifying with a 4-1 defeat of Switzerland in Augsburg – but coach Silvia Neid believes her side are not favourites for a sixth straight continental crown.
Germany were looking to make up for their disappointing FIFA Women's World Cup quarter-final exit to Japan on home soil in July. And Bajramaj, crowned as Germany's player of the year before the game, struck twice with Linda Bresonik and Martina Müller also on target in the Group 2 win.
Switzerland reached the 2011 World Cup qualifying play-offs and were facing a Germany team shorn of the retired Birgit Prinz, Kerstin Garefrekes and Ariana Hingst. But after a nervy start Melanie Behringer set up her new 1. FFC Frankfurt team-mate Bajramaj for the opener in the 32nd minute from the edge of the box, and new Germany captain Nadine Angerer had little to do in goal.
The pressure was kept up after the break and after hitting the post on 64 minutes, Behringer swiftly set up Bajramaj again. Ramona Bachmann pulled one back but Bresonik soon struck and substitute Müller was superbly set up by Behringer for the fourth. It was a familiar feeling for Switzerland, beaten twice in Germany in qualifying for both the 2007 World Cup and UEFA Women's EURO 2009.
"The World Cup is no longer something we think about, as we have set ourselves new targets," Germany midfielder Simone Laudehr said. "That's very important for such a young team. We have now got off to a good start in qualification, but we know that we can still improve and we will."
So do the "new targets" imply yet another European title in two years? Not according to coach Neid. "We are not the favourites for this European Championship," the coach said. "Sweden will have home advantage and thus be the favourites. They came third in the World Cup and France are also a strong team, who came fourth."
Germany's next opponents on 22 October will be Romania, who secured a 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan today. Switzerland face Romania on Wednesday and next month meet Spain, who won 10-1 in Turkey in their opener.
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