Ten to watch from Women's U19 finals in Italy
Sunday, June 12, 2011
The 2010/11 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship in north-east Italy had some exceptional individual performances. UEFA.com picks out ten emerging talents.
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The 2011 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship in Emilia-Romagna, north-east Italy, featured some exceptional individual performances. UEFA.com reporters have selected their pick of ten emerging talents, with five of the eight finalists providing players.
Pascale Küffer (Switzerland)
Küffer's group stage displays left coach Yannick Schwery purring with pride, especially after a courageous and assured show of shot-saving and cross-handling in a 0-0 draw with Russia earned Switzerland the point they needed to reach the last four. "She saved us," he said after the 18-year-old tipped over Ksenia Veselukha's scorching added-time free-kick. In the semi-final Küffer was beaten just once in seven first-half attempts on goal, before Germany finally ended her bold resistance in the second half.
Maria Thorisdottir (Norway)
While the pace and movement of Norway's attack caught the eye, it was Thorisdottir's disciplined role in front of the back four that allowed the freedom to break in number. The Klepp IL midfielder covered a lot of ground as she mopped up behind the more attack-minded Andrine Hegerberg and Cathrine Dekkerhus, seldom giving the ball away with her distribution either. And she did it all with a beaming smile, only breaking the pose to rally her flagging team-mates as the tournament wore on – even she could not lift them in the final, though.
Chantal Fimian (Switzerland)
Ahead of the semi-finals, Schwery said his team had to learn how to deal without the reassuring presence of Chantal Fimian in the heart of defence, but her absence clearly left a big hole as they lost 3-1 to Germany. The 17-year-old's tournament was cut short by the sixth serious injury of her fledgling career 14 minutes into the third group game against Russia. Yet Fimian, who plays as striker with Grasshopper Club, had already proved her great positioning, technique and poise in the 4-1 victory over Belgium and the hard-fought 1-0 defeat against Italy.
Luisa Wensing (Germany)
An ever-present for Germany, Wensing provided an intimidating presence in an impressive back line. She displayed great awareness and athleticism throughout, memorably denying the Netherlands a clear goal with a goal-line block, while at the other end her running on the flanks and powerful headers from set pieces were a constant threat – as Norway discovered in the final when she scored the opener. The pitch was not the only place the FCR Duisburg 2001 starlet inspired terror: she had a similar lack of clemency with a table tennis bat in her hand.
Martina Rosucci (Italy)
The only survivor of Italy's 2008 success, Rosucci led by example throughout in Emilia-Romagna. Utilised in an unfamiliar advanced position by Corrado Corradini, she alternated with Lisa Alborghetti in supporting the two wingers whenever Italy attacked. The first player to start pressing when opponents were in possession and also the most technically gifted member of Italy's midfield, Rosucci saved her best performance for when her side really needed it. She brilliantly set up goals Elisa Lecce and Coppola in the semi-final against Norway, but could not prevent a 3-2 loss.
Isabella Schmid (Germany)
Germany's greatest strength is the speed with which they close down opponents. Chief among Germany's midfield terriers is Schmid, who complements tireless running and astute positioning with the ability to initiate attacks. Dictating her side's tempo with incisive, well-timed passes she is the central fulcrum around which the team revolves. This all-round midfielder also boasts a lethal shot, as evidenced by three long-range goals, all against Norway – one in the group stage, two in the final.
Ramona Petzelberger (Germany)
Billed as Germany's most exciting new talent, Petzelberger did not disappoint despite failing to score in the group stages. Blessed with pace and an eye for goal, the SC 07 Bad Neuenahr forward is also adept at dropping deep and linking up play. The UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship winner broke the deadlock in the semi-finals with a composed finish. Her clever, low free-kick also enabled Eunice Beckmann to restore Germany's advantage and set up their 3-1 triumph before capping a "great tournament" (in the words of coach Maren Meinert) with a goal in the 8-1 final win.
Tessa Wullaert (Belgium)
A skilful playmaker with wonderful close control and outstanding vision, Wullaert was one of the most inspiring performers in Emilia-Romagna. Slight in frame but lethal in the attacking third, the 18-year-old revelled in her free role in midfield, showcasing her array of tricks. There were nutmegs, ferocious long shots and magical crosses from seemingly impossible positions, such as the one with the outside of her left foot that set up Justine Vanhaevermaet's goal against Russia. The No10's sublime skills and range of passing was a joy to behold.
Melissa Bjånesøy (Norway)
Eighteen months ago Bjånesøy was not really on the radar but after a tip-off coach Jarl Torske took her to a friendly trip to La Manga, Spain – she has not looked back. The IL Sandviken striker took her tally to 19 goals in 21 appearances for the U19s with seven goals in Emilia-Romagna (scoring in every match) and 13 for the campaign – only Russia's Elena Danilova has ever managed more. Her pace caused all manner of problems and she seldom passed up an opening but it was her movement as much as anything that made her stand out. "She's incredible," said Torske. A trail of defenders reluctantly agreed.
Katia Coppola (Italy)
It took three minutes for Coppola to score the first of her three goals in the tournament, as Italy started their Group A campaign with a 2-1 victory over Russia. The diminutive winger showed great awareness, reacting first to the rebound after the goalkeeper's save. But Coppola's repertoire also included an accurate shot, as she proved with the winner six minutes from time against Switzerland, and the electric pace that allowed her to beat the Norway defence to score in the Azzurrine's 3-2 semi-final defeat.