France aiming to make it third final lucky
Thursday, 28 June 2012
Germany will aim to become the first team to win three UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship titles on Friday as France aim to make up for two previous final defeats in Nyon.
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Germany and France both take part in their third UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship final in five Nyon tournaments – but their records are in stark contrast.
While Germany won the first editions in 2008 and 2009, before ending a run of two straight semi-final losses against Denmark on Tuesday, France were beaten in the inaugural decider and lost to a last-gasp Spain goal at that stage a year ago. It was the first time that France's hopes had been ended by anyone other than Germany.
This impressive tournament pedigree from both countries is such that Germany coach Anouschka Bernhard and her France counterpart Francisco Rubio go into Friday's clash full of respect for each other's sides. "Germany are always a reference point at this level," said Rubio whose side defeated home nation Switzerland 5-1 in Tuesday's first semi-final.
"However, we managed to finally beat them in the semi-finals last year, on penalties and at our fourth attempt. I think if we can enjoy the occasion and play with a bit of freedom, we can do well again on Friday."
Bernhard, whose side saw off Denmark 2-0 in the second semi-final, told UEFA.com: "France are a great team. They have so many good players, especially Sandie Toletti and Laura Blanchard in midfield. They have fast defenders and strong forwards. They're really good. But in football you start with 0-0 and then take it from there, so we'll see what happens."
France have concerns over the fitness of defender Margaux Leconte and forward Léa Declercq, who were both forced off with injuries on Tuesday. "Margaux and Léa are key players for us, so fingers crosses they can make the final," said Rubio. "All the same, I think we have a very good squad this year and we'll be able to compensate for their absence."
Kadidiatou Diani was the architect of France's second goal on Tuesday and scorer of their third, a superb volley. The FCF Juvisy Essonne player said: "We're glad to be in the final but it's not finished there – we have to win it now. It will be difficult against Germany but we will give it our all, that's for sure."
Diani, Toletti and Declercq all faced Germany in last year's epic semi-final which they won 6-5 on penalties, while Sara Däbritz, scorer of her team's second against Denmark, is the only player from the 2011 losing side still involved.
Understandably, the SC Freiburg striker is banking on better luck this time: "We respect France and their result against Denmark was impressive. It will be tough, but we can win it. Last year was unfortunate, but we hope we can beat them this year."