SCOTLAND coach Anna Signeul has acknowledged her side faces its toughest task of 2013 when they meet Germany in Essen today.
The Scots started the year with two games against the United States, who head the Fifa women’s rankings, but Signeul reckons that the Germans, who are second, will be even more difficult opponents. Silvia Neid’s side are preparing for next month’s European Championship in Sweden, when they hope to win an unprecedented sixth successive title. The Scots are based in Oberhausen, but while the famed predictive powers of its most famous resident, the late Paul the Octopus, might not have been required to hazard a guess at today’s outcome, Signeul is convinced that her side can give the Germans a hard game.
“It’s an honour to be asked to play them at this stage of their preparations for the Euros,” said the Swede. “We only narrowly missed out on going to the finals ourselves, and this is recognition that the Germans regard us as worthy opponents.
“They wouldn’t ask us to play them so close to the tournament if they didn’t think it would be of value to them.”
Scotland have beaten three Euro qualifiers and also drawn with England in a five game unbeaten run, but their record against Germany is not good, losing all four games. The last time the sides met, in a World Cup qualifying match at McDiarmid Park in 2006, the Germans won 5-0.
“This will be a test as to whether we have come any closer to Germany,” Signeul said. “We didn’t have a chance the last time we played them.
“It will be a high tempo game. I was really pleased with our performance when we beat Iceland 3-2 a fortnight ago. We now have players with good endurance and speed – we didn’t have that before.”
Signeul will again be without her first-choice back four for a game which is being shown live on television and is expected to attract a crowd of around 20,000.
The Germans let their fans down when they hosted the World Cup two years ago, losing after extra time in the quarter finals to eventual winners Japan, and are desperate to retain their European title in Sweden.
It is a sign of changing times that the only “home” player at the Stadion Essen will be Scotland midfielder Emma Mitchell. She joined women’s Bundesliga side SGS Essen from Glasgow City in January and is already being linked with a move to Arsenal.