Maren Meinert believes "an early goal" is Germany's best chance of securing a fourth UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship against a Norway side seeking their first title.
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Maren Meinert believes Germany's best chance of securing a fourth UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship on Saturday is if they hit the ground running against a Norway side seeking their first title.
The thought of Meinert's side struggling on any level seems hard to reconcile with the finalists' record of four successive victories en route to the Imola showpiece. However, it is a claim that has been reiterated throughout the tournament by a coach concerned with Germany's poor conversion rate of nine goals from 38 attempts on target.
"We have a good defence but what we would like is an early goal," said Meinert. "An early goal would give us confidence to go on from there. We need too many chances to score and one day that will catch up with us. I keep telling the girls that we won't always have ten clear-cut chances per game, so we will have to take our chances."
Meinert insists playing Norway will be a difficult prospect as their more physical approach does not suit her side. "We always have problems against Norway, it's not the style we like to play against but I think it's a good final and it will be a tight match."
With six wins and four draws from the teams' last ten meetings, Germany's record should surely be more of a concern for Norway coach Jarl Torske, particularly as the last of those defeats came in the opening match of this tournament, 3-1. "We will have to play a lot better than the first game because we were poor that day," admitted Torske, whose only triumph over Germany came in a penalty shoot-out in the semi-finals three years ago.
"We need to dare to play more football, dare to play the passing game instead of just kicking the ball and hoping for the best but there's so much confidence in the group now that I think we will be able to do that." That high morale is well grounded after three successive wins since the opening day loss, scoring 11 goals in the process.
Momentum, belief and a strong team spirit have built up – as evident in the 3-2 win against hosts Italy in the last four. "We need to defend well but we also need to be sharper in attack, more precise and accurate to get behind the back four," added Torske, three times a beaten finalist in this competition and the Under-18 format that preceded it.
"We have a couple of strikers on good form – Melissa Bjånesøy has been incredible, scoring [a tournament-leading] six goals and she has also been involved in three of the other goals – the whole team has improved.
"The mood in the camp is incredible. The girls keep singing on the team bus and there's so much energy in the group: good performances build confidence. But it'll be a hell of a tough match and whatever happens, I will be proud of what we've achieved here."