German chancellor sends luck to players

Germany's players receive welcome telegram as they look to continue European domination against Norway on Sunday.

    German chancellor sends luck to players
    Germany crushed home hopes after knocking out Sweden with a 1-0 victory in semi-finals [GALLO/GETTY]

    Angela Merkel has told the German team she will have her fingers crossed as they seek to secure a sixth consecutive European women's soccer title against Norway in Stockholm on Sunday.

    "Like you and all of the players, I am delighted about this world-class achievement," German chancellor Merkel said in a telegram to team coach Silvia Neid.

    "The eighth European title is now within reach. I'm sure you will all put your heart and soul into preparing for the big event and I wish you the best of luck for the final as well as success and strong nerves. I'm crossing my fingers!"

    Germany dispatched Italy in the quarter-finals before beating hosts Sweden as underdogs in what was the game of the tournament so far.

    The eighth European title is now within reach. I'm sure you will all put your heart and soul into preparing for the big event and I wish you the best of luck for the final as well as success and strong nerves. I'm crossing my fingers!

    Angela Merkel, Telegram from German chancellor

    Missing key striker Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi, the Germans withstood a massive onslaught from the Swedes and escaped with a 1-0 victory thanks to a first-half goal from Dzsenifer Marozsan.

    They will now have to overcome Norway, the only team to have beaten them in the competition in 17 years and one of only three teams ever to win the European title.

    That Norwegian win over Germany is no dusty historical fact either - it came with a 1-0 win in the final game of the group stage of this tournament, which allowed Norway to top group B.

    Norway beat Spain in the quarter-finals, before a dramatic win over Denmark on penalties secured them a spot in the final.

    As in the group game, Norway will look to hit Germany on the break through their mobile strikers Ada Hegerberg and Caroline Hansen, with Elise Thorsnes ready to come off the bench.

    Germany will be hoping Okoyino Da Mbabi can return to the fulcrum of the with Marozsan tucked in behind in midfield.

    UEFA ambassador Patrik Andersson, a Champions League- winning Swedish defender who represented Bayern Munich and Barcelona, said Germany's strength in depth had been impressive.

    "They travelled here without five key players who were injured, but despite that they still have great quality in the team," he told reporters.

    With the previous tournament total attendance record of 129,000 smashed by the quarter-final stage and 45,000 tickets sold for the final, UEFA can already claim a huge success.

    How many actually take their seats at the final now that Sweden are out remains to be seen although many Swedes will turn out to support neighbours Norway, hoping they can put a stop to the German dominance of the European women's game ahead of the World cup in Canada in 2015.

    Andersson believes the tournament will have a lasting effect on women's soccer in the country.

    "It has attracted a much younger audience, so the hope is that they will start to play football themselves, but most importantly to get involved in some way," he said.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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