x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Decision time for German women at World Cup

Hosts are through to quarter-finals but yet to show their worth and will have to flex their muscles while France are relaxed.

Silvia Neid, the Germany coach, right, believes her players need to relax.
Silvia Neid, the Germany coach, right, believes her players need to relax.

Germany will be looking to flex their muscles and demonstrate their title credentials when they take on France in their final group game tonight.

Both sides are already through to the quarter-finals with six points after two games so the clash between the European rivals will be one for Group A supremacy in front of a sell-out 50,000 crowd in Moenchengladbach.

Despite being the reigning two-time champions and favourites, Germany have proved less impressive than the French so far, and were briefly whistled by the crowd as they struggled to subdue Nigeria 1-0 in Frankfurt.

France routed Canada 4-0 after beating Nigeria 1-0 and are top of the table on goal difference from the Germans who also beat the north Americans 2-1.

The tie will also decide whether they play either Japan, who are already qualified, or possibly England or Mexico in the next round.

"We are in the quarter-finals, but without the pomp and circumstance," Silvia Neid, the Germany coach, said. "Our passing wasn't very good against Nigeria, we gave too many balls away to green shirts and we need to improve, particularly on our decision making."

"For me, the players were very self-conscious in the last game, not as relaxed as normal and seemed weighed down to me.

"The pressure to reach the quarter-finals was considerable. Every opponent is giving 170 per cent against us, because we are the reigning world champions. But we have to accept that and so we'll continue in our role as favourites."

Bruno Bini, the France coach, said his side will not be putting any pressure on themselves and dismissed suggestions his team were now among the new favourites.

"You don't go in one match from outsider, or even losers to being number one favourites for the World Cup," he said. "Germany are No 1. They've won everything. They are reigning champions in everything apart from the Champions League."

The France side includes several members of the Lyon team which won that title this year.

"In any case we're not going to approach this match as if we had just three points I can tell you. We're under no pressure," Bini said.

"We mustn't lose sight of our goal which is not to beat Germany but to win our quarter-final."