Women's Under-17 finals groups go to the wire
Monday, May 9, 2016
England and Spain are pool leaders going into matchday three yet the likes of Norway, Serbia, Germany and Italy will all have a say in Tuesday's final group-stage reckoning.
Article top media content
• Group A
Belarus 1-5 Serbia
England 3-2 Norway
Belarus 0-12 England
Serbia 0-1 Norway
Norway v Belarus (16.00 local*/15.00CET); City Stadium, Slutsk
With a goal deficit of 16, hosts Belarus must raise themselves for what will be their valedictory appearance at these finals. If Irina Bulygina's team have suffered a degree of WU17 EURO stage fright, Norway, the qualifying competition's 39-goal top scorers, may also be capable of more than they have shown until now – especially with second place in their grasp. "They want to go to the semi-finals and they know there's a World Cup to play for," says coach Lena Tyriberget.
Serbia v England (16.00 local*); Traktor Stadium, Minsk
Leaders England and Serbia, in third, are each vying for qualification, with John Griffiths's team holding the aces of a three-point advantage over both their opponents and Norway, and a +13 goal difference. This England squad's fitness, flexibility and finishing would trouble any side, as rival coach Suzana Stanojević knows from experience. Serbia lost 3-1 at home to England during the elite round and Stanojević says: "My players know what to expect. England scored three goals from our mistakes and we don't want to repeat that. We are playing the best and we want to show our strengths against them."
• Group B
Italy 0-0 Czech Republic
Germany 2-2 Spain
Italy 0-0 Germany
Czech Republic 0-1 Spain
Spain v Italy (16.00 local*); Torpedo Stadium, Zhodino
Rita Guarino, coach of third-placed Italy, believed "they were a match for Germany" as they extended their unbeaten run this season to eight games on Saturday. However, the Italians' impressive campaign now hinges on this encounter with a Spain side sitting on a two-point cushion in the group, ahead of Guarino's team and Germany. The coach may take heart from how a well-organised Czech Republic limited the holders to a 1-0 victory. Opposite number María Antonia Is, meanwhile, will relish the prospect of a high-stakes fixture – one, in particular, in which Italy may have to chase a goal.
Czech Republic v Germany (16.00 local*); Gorodskoi Stadion, Borisov
The Czech Republic are down in fourth spot but definitely not out. Coach Karel Rada will hope the debutants have the energy, mental as well as physical, to maintain their high standard of performance so far. Draws with France in the elite round and then Italy here are sources of optimism, although Germany have all the proven know-how at this level. Booked on matchday one, full-back Caroline Siems must avoid a second yellow card for Anouschka Bernhard's team in view of a potential semi-final.
*Belarusian time one hour ahead of CET