Another women's competition, another German win - with success in Switzerland, Germany are now world and European champions at senior and youth level.
Another women's competition, another German victory. With their UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship success, Germany are now world and European champions at senior and youth level, and leading their coaching team in Switzerland was one of the heroes of their 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup triumph - Maren Meinert.
Meinert took charge just before the 2005 finals in Hungary, when Germany reached the last four, and now has a title in her first full season. "It is always the team that wins tournaments, not the coach, but it feels great," she told uefa.com. "If you are a player you are happy if you play well but as a coach you have an overview and it makes you feel proud." Victory came on Saturday with a 3-0 triumph against France, the goals coming from twins Isabel and Monique Kerschowski, who had also both struck in the semi-final defeat of Russia.
Isabel had already scored the first when, early in the second half, she found herself free in the French half about 35 metres from goal with goalkeeper Véronique Pons having rushed out to challenge. The forward rounded Pons and then rolled the ball - slowly - into the net. Meinert said: "It took what seemed like an hour to go in, I was thinking: 'Hello, can you make it go faster?!'"
Germany had waited four years for this fourth continental youth title, and it came in the season when for once they did not begin as overwhelming favourites. But they had quality throughout the team, including midfielder anchors Meike Weber and Nadine Kessler, the gifted Fatmire Bajramaj linking to attack, winger and set-piece specialist Juliane Meier and, of course, the Kerschowski sisters up front. And Meinert is proving as tactically adept as a coach as she was a talented player - exemplified by the half-time reshuffles in the 1-1 draw with Sweden, where Germany equalised very late on, and 4-0 semi-final victory against Russia when Angel and Monique Kerschowski both scored within five minutes of their interval introduction.
French pipped again
Her opposite number in the final, Stéphane Pilard, has vowed to return after a second successive runners-up finish, and next year his star striker Marie Laure Delie, who claimed five goals in Switzerland, will still be eligible. Apart from her all-round attacking ability, other Les Bleuettes to impress were creative midfielder Jessica Houara and assured defenders Livia Jean and Elodie Cordier.
They, like Germany, secured a comfortable win against holders Russia, but the heat on those evenings clearly sapped the champions' energy. They of course boasted leading scorer Elena Danilova, who now holds just about every individual record possible in this competition, and her cohorts from the last three tournaments Elena Terekhova and Elena Morozova. They will be joined by some key players from last year when Russia stage the FIFA U-20 Women' World Cup next month, with Germany, France, Finland and Switzerland also competing.
The Swiss hosts of this tournament were pipped by Russia and specifically Danilova in the group stage but the majority of their talented squad are young enough to return when Iceland stage the 2007 edition. Denmark, who lost 1-0 to France in the semi-finals, also had a team of 17 and 18-year-olds and the 0-0 draw that took them past Sweden was probably the most tense encounter of the tournament. Even the bottom sides in the group stage, Belgium and the Netherlands, showed promise, but ultimately the same question as at any European women's tournament was raised: can anybody beat Germany? Here, no one could.