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Germany out to continue France dominance

Germany's Ralf Peter is expecting a "close game" in their UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship semi-final against France, who they have had the measure of since 2008.

Ralf Peter (second from left) and France's Paco Rubio (right)
Ralf Peter (second from left) and France's Paco Rubio (right) ©Sportsfile

Two old adversaries come together in the second of Thursday's UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship semi-finals as two-time winners Germany face France.

In 2008, the teams contested the inaugural final, with Germany easing to a 3-0 success. Twelve months later, the semi-final stage proved to be the end of the road for Les Bleuettes as they succumbed 4-1 to an impressive German outfit. And, last year, Germany once again halted France's progress with a 1-0 victory in the first qualifying round.

Germany, who have reached all four final tournaments, have a point to prove. Having won the 2008 and 2009 titles in some style, they tripped up in last season's semi-final against the Republic of Ireland. Their coach, Ralf Peter, is determined to avoid a repeat. "We've worked very hard and we're extremely confident," he said.

"It's a very interesting and difficult game for the two teams," Peter added. "Form on the day could well be decisive. We're well prepared. It depends on how the players deal with this pressure situation − last year they were unable to do so, they didn't produce the performance they were capable of – and I hope it will be better this year. I'm expecting a very close game."

France's Paco Rubio respects Germany's strength, but emphasised that his young charges would be ready for the challenge "otherwise we wouldn't be here". France are drawing inspiration from the senior women's side, which reached the last four of the recent FIFA Women's World Cup, and Rubio's youngsters have travelled to Switzerland clearly focused on European glory.

"It's always a challenge to play against Germany, and we've been beaten three times by them," he added. "Germany are a European reference. Be it the seniors or the youngsters, we know that it's going to be a tough game. We've come to do the very best we can. It's perhaps true that I would have preferred not to play Germany immediately, but this is how it is − we don't have a choice − and it remains a game of 11 against 11."