Germany and the Netherlands may have had their UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship title hopes ended in the semi-finals earlier this week but there is plenty of incentive for them in Saturday's third-place play-off in Nyon.
Victory would give the winners a trip to Trinidad and Tobago in September for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, where they will meet Mexico, South Africa and Korea Republic in Group B. Already assured of their berths are the two finalists: Spain, who beat the Netherlands 3-0 on Tuesday, and the team that ended Germany's monopoly of this tournament, the Republic of Ireland.
Germany are indeed experiencing a brand-new feeling at this level, having won both previous editions and not lost in 22 previous fixtures in the competition until their 1-0 reverse at Ireland's hands. Coach Ralf Peter has had the task of restoring morale, with his team having the chance to redeem themselves in the World Cup just as the Germany women's U19 team did in 2004, when they were humbled by Spain in the European final but won the global competition.
Yes, they were disappointed, but now we have to be ready for Saturday," Peter told UEFA.com. "Matches between Germany and the Netherlands are always quite delicate as there is a special rivalry between the two countries. It promises to be a good game."
The Netherlands fought hard in their semi-final, yet in the end found the skill and pace of Spain too much to handle and like Germany suffered their first loss over 90 minutes in a Women's U17 game, despite never having previously qualified. They were unable to impose themselves in attack, and were consequently left to spend much of the game defending stubbornly in a vain attempt to stay afloat.
However, although like their senior and U19 team in the last 12 months they have suffered a European semi-final loss, Netherlands coach Maria van Kortenhof is confident her side will be back on song against Germany. "They were disappointed because of the Spain result but now it is time to recover and we must go for the last ticket to Trinidad and Tobago," she said.
"They will fight for it. I think there is less tension now we have played our first game, it is better that they have played already and they are less nervous.
It is always competitive against your neighbours. The Dutch and the Germans know everything about one another, and it is always a battle between Germany and the Netherlands."
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