Germany will take on Spain in the semifinal of the FIFA women’s U-17 World Cup in what will be a repeat of the European Championship final from the summer. The Spaniards will get an opportunity to avenge the penalty shootout loss here at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Wednesday.
“I always say football is a permanent revenge,” said the Spanish coach Kenio Gonzalo.
Not much has changed between the two sides since then. Spain and Germany have nearly the same squads as the Euros with just three and two changes, respectively. Germany, however, will be without its head coach Friederike Kromp, who tested positive for Covid-19 before the team’s quarterfinal, on the touchline.
Julia Simic, the German assistant coach, expects an intense encounter against Spain. “We are looking forward to an intense game. We played them twice in a friendly and the Euros, and they were the most intense games. You can’t switch off against them. We want to go for the win,” said Simic.
Defending champion Spain hasn’t had the smoothest of runs despite its dominance with the ball (68% average possession) and attacking approach (75 shots). All their four goals have come after the 60-minute mark and it required the individual brilliance of midfielder Vicky Lopez to score twice in the final few minutes against a strong Japan to earn a comeback win.
Germany, on the other hand, has had a strong run to the last four stages with 13 goals to its name and seven different goalscorers.
The Euro winners controlled the quarterfinal win over Brazil to reach its first semifinal since 2012. The return of attacking midfielder Alara Shitler, who wasn’t involved against Brazil, will add more creativity to the German attack.
Nigeria vs Colombia
In the first semifinal of the day, Colombia faces Nigeria as they both aim for a historic final berth. Nigeria did the unthinkable by getting past the United States of America in the quarterfinal, while Colombia took apart Tanzania to reach the last four.
In Colombia’s four matches, it has mixed its style against different opponents. Las Cafeteras were content in conceding possession and soaking up the pressure before hitting on the counter-attack against Spain and Mexico but were assertive with the ball when it went up against China and Tanzania.
Carlos Alberto Paniagua’s women will likely go on the offensive when it goes up against the Flamingoes and one can expect a back-and-forth contest.
Nigeria, too, has had dominant outings so far with its pace in attack, while defending the spaces as a collective in front of tougher opponents.
Nigerian midfielder Emmanuel Blessing said the team is thriving off the support from back home. ”The more is very high after beating the USA,” she said.
The Colombia coach was reminded of Nigeria’s historical success in the past two meetings in the tournament in 2012 and 2014. “We have a saying in Colombia that you will be third time lucky. As a group, we are in high spirits. We don’t want to lose this beautiful opportunity to get to the final. Our dream is to go back home with the World Cup,” said Paniagua.
Colombian striker Linda Caicedo, who went off injured in the quarterfinal win, has returned to training and is expected to take her place in the starting XI.
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