France coach Francisco Rubio has urged his side to take the game to Spain when the two countries meet in Sunday's UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final in Nyon.
Having seen his charges prevail 6-5 on penalties against Germany after Thursday's nail-biting semi-final had finished 2-2, Rubio is urging his team to assert themselves against the reigning champions in the Stade Colovray showpiece.
"Spain have a strong side," Rubio told UEFA.com. "They are the titleholders and they play very well. I watched their semi-final against Iceland and we could say that they play a typical Spanish style of football. The Spanish like to pass it and take it down the wings. It will be another difficult match for us. But it will be a big game for both teams. We're not going to give in just like that – we'll take the game to Spain."
France showed their mettle against 2008 and 2009 champions Germany after trailing to Lina Magull's early strike. They battled back superbly thanks to Claire Lavogez's 25-metre free kick, before Lydia Belkacemi's header gave Les Bleuettes the lead.
When Annabel Jäger's long-range effort pegged them back again, the French never let their heads drop, and they forced a shoot-out which looked like slipping away from them when, at 5-5, Jäger had the chance to win it for Ralf Peter's side.
But she put her effort wide, as did team-mate Melanie Leupolz, and France forward Meryll Wenger's powerful, rising spot-kick turned out to be the deciding strike. It is this sort of resolve that Wenger thinks will stand France in good stead ahead of Sunday's clash.
"We got a lot of confidence from equalising against the Germans," said the 16-year-old. "We felt we could do it after that, and although Germany scored after we went ahead, we still felt we could do it. I think our team's strength is its togetherness and we showed a lot of character in the semi-final. Hopefully we'll be able to show that again on Sunday.
"I think in beating Germany we achieved something, but we still have to go to the final and win it. To a certain extent, we've got the hardest part out of the way. We wanted to get to the final and now everything is a bonus. But I think we can do it because we have a very good team.
She added: "I saw the Spain match. They have a lot of technical qualities, they play a lot on the ground and move the ball around well and I think it will be a good final. It will be my first final and it's the sort of thing you don't experience every day, so I will give it my all and hope we can win – for our country, for the team, for myself, for the fans that come to watch us – our country is dear to us, we're representing it and we don't want to disappoint anyone."
France captain Lavogez echoed her team-mate's sentiments, saying: "I hope there will be lots of France fans at the final like at the semi-final – because when you know they're there, you want to try to do everything to become European champions."
The final will be televised live on Eurosport 1 at 18.00CET.
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