Four of Europe's five FIFA Women's World Cup finals contenders will meet in probably the most prestigious international tournament other than the World Cup or UEFA European Women's Championship as they compete for the 14th Algarve Cup over the next week.
Germany, Norway and Denmark are in Group A alongside France, while Sweden take on UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ hosts Finland, the United States and World Cup home nation China in Group B. Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Iceland and Italy are in the non-championship Group C as they prepare to begin UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualifying. Norway and the US are both hoping to become the first nations to win the tournament for a fifth time.
Last year world and European champions Germany won their first Algarve tournament, and they open their campaign later today against Norway in a rematch of the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ final. In the same pool France take on Denmark, while Sweden and Finland face off in Group B. Portugal begin their campaign against Ireland while Iceland take on Italy in the Group C fixtures.
Matches continue on Friday and Monday, and in Wednesday's final the top teams from Groups A and B will meet for the title as the six matches for position are played. The fifth of Europe's World Cup contenders in September, England, are not in Portugal for this tournament but are still busy - they have home matches against Russia, Scotland and the Netherlands on Thursday, Sunday and Wednesday.
Algarve Cup fixtures
(Kick-off times local, CET -1 hour)
Wed 7 March
Group A: 13.45 France v Denmark, 17.45 Germany v Norway
Group B: 15.15 Sweden v Finland, 16.15 US v China
Group C: 15.30 Portugal v Ireland, 18.00 Iceland v Italy
Fri 9 March
Group A: 13.45 Norway v Denmark, 18.00 Germany v France
Group B: 15.00 Sweden v China, 16.15 Finland v US
Group C: 15.30 Portugal v Italy, 18.00 Ireland v Iceland
Mon 12 March
Group A: 17.30 Germany v Denmark, Norway v France
Group B: 20.00 US v Sweden, China v Finland
Group C: 15.30 Italy v Ireland, Portugal v Iceland
Wed 14 March
10.00: Play-off for 11th place C3 v C4
10.00: Play-off for 9th place A4/B4* v C2
10.30: Play-off for 7th place A4/B4* v C1
10.30: Play-off for 5th place A3 v B3
13.00: Play-off for 3rd place A2 v B2
16.30: Final A1 v B1
*Fourth-placed team with best record goes into seventh-place play-off
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