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Switzerland steeled for Germany opener

Switzerland have the toughest possible start to qualifying on Saturday in the shape of Germany, but after a fine FIFA Women's World Cup run, coach Béatrice von Siebenthal is optimistic.

Switzerland had their best run in World Cup qualifying but now face Germany again
Switzerland had their best run in World Cup qualifying but now face Germany again ©Keystone

Having had the rare pleasure of not having to face Germany in 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying, Switzerland take on their neighbours to the north once more as they begin their UEFA Women's EURO 2013 bid on Saturday.

Switzerland met Germany in qualifying for both the 2007 World Cup and UEFA Women's EURO 2009, each time losing twice by an aggregate of 10-0. With Germany hosting the last World Cup, Switzerland could not have drawn them, and showed their mettle by topping Russia to reach a major play-off for the first time, albeit they lost out over two legs against first England and then Italy.

However, for 2013 qualifying Switzerland have found themselves again in the same group as not only Germany, but also Spain. And Béatrice von Siebenthal's side are starting with their toughest fixture, travelling to Augsburg to play a Germany team smarting from their quarter-final World Cup exit, with a sixth straight European title in their sights.

"We got Germany, the team that everybody wanted to avoid," Von Siebenthal told "Only in World Cup qualifying in 2011 did we not have to play Germany. It is a pity, as we almost certainly know we will only be able to advance as one of the best runner-ups."

An understandable sentiment, since Germany have won every qualifier they have played since 1999. But Switzerland's superb World Cup performance, which included a two-legged elimination of Denmark during the play-off process, has made them likely candidates to challenge for a first final tournament appearance, with Spain probably their closest rivals in a section also containing Turkey, Romania and Kazakhstan. Switzerland have showcased their ability in friendlies this year, holding Canada and most recently winning 1-0 in the Republic of Ireland.

"I hope we have learned from the experience we gained in World Cup qualification and have matured and developed our abilities," Von Siebenthal said. "We could learn from the fact that all the games were do-or-die games, now we have to gather our forces to reach the play-offs again. It will be a long road."