History doesn't favor Germany in its title defense. After all, no team has yet to successfully defend its Women's World Cup championship.
But Germany coach
has a blend of experience and youth -- just like the USA -- that will make her team difficult to beat.
The Germans enter China '07 as the class of the European finalists.
They cruised to the 2005 UEFA women's title and won all eight games in Women's World Cup qualifying.
Germany earned a shootout victory over the USA in the final of the 2006 Algarve Cup --
the closest thing to a loss for the USA in the Greg Ryan
era, The Germans were outplayed by a wide margin -- the USA had a 16-8 edge in shots and 13-3 edge
in corners -- but they got a sensational game from veteran goalie Silke Rottenberg
Injuries to Rottenberg, however, have forced Neid to install
long-time backup Nadine Angerer
, 28, as the first-choice keeper for China.
Three-time Women's World Player of the Year Birgit Prinz -- once courted
by Italian Serie A (men's) team Perugia -- is one of 12 veterans of the 2003 championship team to return for the 2007 finals. Also back are midfielder Renate Lingor
and defender Kerstin Stegemann
Like Prinz, Sandra Smisek
has more than 100 appearances for
The key to Germany will be its young midfield. Of the newcomers, the player to watch is Kosovo-born Fatmire Bajramaj
. Big things are also
expected from two other newcomers, Melanie Behringer
and Simone Laudehr GERMANY ROSTER: Goalkeepers --
Nadine Angerer (Turbine Potsdam), Ursula Holl (Bad Neuenahr), Silke Rottenberg (FFC Frankfurt). Defenders --
Saskia Bartusiak (FFC Frankfurt), Sonja Fuss (Duisburg), Ariane Hingst (Djurgardens IF, Sweden), Annike Krahn (Duisburg), Sandra Minnert (Bad
Neuenahr), Babett Peter (Turbine Potsdam), Kerstin Stegemann (Wattenscheid 09). Midfielders --
Fatmire Bajramaj (Duisburg), Melanie Behringer (Freiburg),
Linda Bresonik (Essen-Schoenebeck), Kerstin Garefrekes (FFC Frankfurt), Simone Laudehr (Duisburg), Renate Lingor (FFC Frankfurt), Petra Wimbersky (FFC Frankfurt). Forwards --
Anja Mittag (Turbine Potsdam), Martina Mueller (Wolfsburg), Birgit Prinz (FFC Frankfurt), Sandra Smisek (FFC Frankfurt).