A youth tournament is by definition just as much about the future as the competition itself, so the eight nations who played in the 2005 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship finals in Hungary doubtless already had one eye on what was to come.
For five of that octet, there was another tournament to look forward to − the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. Russia, as hosts, had already qualified, but their magnificent run that culminated in the penalty shoot-out victory against France meant they bore the proud title of European champions.
They were not the ante-post favourites but, like Spain in 2004, Russia showed the right mixture of flair and guile to beat more fancied opposition in England, Germany and France − who had defeated Valentin Grishin's side 4-0 on Matchday 1. Having a striker like Elena Danilova, whose total of nine finals goals was a competition record, helped.
France could feel positive having reached their third final in four years. They were after all only one penalty from victory when their otherwise immaculate goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi hit the bar. Bouhaddi, Elodie Thomis and Louisa Necib were, of course, already well known from UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005, but the emergence of Marie-Laure Delie and Inès Dahou − both only 17 − was also cause for optimism.
Considering their domination at senior level, and their status as world U19 champions, Germany were tipped to succeed in Hungary. The other defeated semi-finalists, Finland, were far more satisfied in replicating their senior team's run, considering their only previous finals appearance, as hosts in 2004, ended with three defeats.
Switzerland also gained a World Cup place after defeating England in a play-off for fifth spot. Their win against England was a victory for their workrate and commitment, as well as the ability of, among others, Vanessa Bürki and Martina Moser.
England and Scotland were unlucky to have eventual finalists Russia and France in their group, but England only missed out by the narrowest of margins, and Scotland had the joint-best record in qualification with the eventual champions and acquitted themselves well in their first finals. The hosts, Hungary, also failed to tally a point in their first showing, although the improvement of Finland in the previous 12 months was testament to the importance of gaining initial experience.
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