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Barth, Wilde relishing Germany's French test

Germany defenders Merle Barth and Manjou Wilde dismiss the notion that their semi-final against France is an "early final" but are looking forward to the challenge it presents.

Manjou Wilde (No17) is looking forward to opposing a 'technical' and 'attacking' French team
Manjou Wilde (No17) is looking forward to opposing a 'technical' and 'attacking' French team ©Getty Images

Germany may have been a little surprised to be up against France in Wednesday's UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship semi-final, but Merle Barth and Manjou Wilde have accepted and even embraced the challenge.

If Germany expected to play England, that was before two late English goals consigned France to second place in Group A and a pairing with Maren Meinert's Group B winners at Llanelli's Parc Y Scarlets. Neither side would have wanted this match to happen at this stage of the tournament, but both have been quick to accept their fate and make the best of it.

"We still have a score to settle with France," combative central defender Barth told UEFA.com after their closing group game, referring to her age group's Women's U17 semi-final defeat by Les Bleuettes in Nyon two years ago. "Back then we went out on penalties. We want to make amends for that. We failed to take our chances and made some stupid mistakes."

Full-back Wilde, one year Barth's junior at 18, has more positive experiences of facing Germany's western neighbours. "We have beaten France in the finals of the Under-17 Championship, but we will not rest on that knowledge. I think we all have the same motivation, but for some of us it will be special motivation from losing to the French."

Given the form both teams have displayed, it is no surprise that some have labelled Germany and France the best sides here in south-west Wales. However, Germany coach Maren Meinert insists England and France have "almost the same quality – they were not separated by much in their group" and Bayer 04 Leverkusen prospect Barth agrees: "This is not an 'early' final, it is the semi-final and we will just focus on that."

SV Werder Bremen tyro Wilde, her defensive colleague, anticipates more of a challenge than Norway (5-0), Sweden (2-0) and Finland (1-1) managed to pose this past week. "I think France are technically stronger than our group stage opponents," the right-footer said. "We have played them often in the past. I think it will be a quite different game from the three so far, a very difficult game. But knockout games always are."

If Germany's Nordic rivals were happy to drop deep and try to hit them on the counter, voices from the French camp have made clear this is not going to be France's plan for Wednesday. Barth recognises this too: "I also believe France will play a more attacking game and take their game to us. We are looking forward to the match."

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