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Rubio hopeful France can shine in finals

Having qualified for the finals with a game to spare, France coach Francisco Rubio said: "There is no mountain we can't conquer," as he contemplates a possible meeting with Germany.

France got the better of Switzerland to qualify
France got the better of Switzerland to qualify ©Franz Feldmann/sportsfotos.ch

For the second time in three years, Francisco Rubio has led France to the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship finals and he believes they have it in them to take the title.

Runners-up to Germany in the inaugural 2008 edition, France finished third the next year after going down to the same side in the semi-finals during Rubio's first season in charge. Last season another loss to Germany ended France's hopes in the first qualifying round, but this time Rubio's team made it through that stage despite a defeat by Sweden and this week beat Wales 4-1 and hosts Switzerland 2-0 in Group 4 in Freienbach to reach the finals with a game to spare.

"We were a lot better than the hosts today," Rubio said after Monday's defeat of Switzerland. "It was one-way traffic and we really deserve this result. We have already qualified which was not so easy as we have had two strong opponents in the first two games, especially Scotland, but my girls played their football and they played really well."

France end their second qualifying round fixtures against Wales on Thursday. They then return to Switzerland for the finals in Nyon where in the last four on 28 July they will face the winners of Group 3, which starts next week and features old nemeses Germany. Rubio believes victory could finally be France's.

"We were not so successful in the first qualifying round mini-tournament, but now we have improved and I hope we could be one of the best teams in the finals too," the former AS Nancy-Lorraine and Olympique de Marseille midfielder said. "To become European champions we need to beat some good teams like Germany, this is not easy, but there is no mountain we can't conquer."