FIFA Women's World Cup host side Germany face Canada, Nigeria and France in the group stages of next year's tournament. Despite strong recent showings against two opponents, team captain Birgit Prinz is not complacent.
Champions Germany will be looking to retain the trophy
In the draw for next year's FIFA Women's World Cup, hosts and champions Germany were pitted against Canada, Nigeria and France in the group stages.
Winners of the competition in 2003 and 2007, Germany will face their first soccer showdown of the tournament in Berlin on June 26 against Canada.
Prinz said sides would raise their game in the tournament
The team will meet Nigeria in Frankfurt on June 30 before going on to face France in Moenchengladbach on July 5.
Despite outstanding recent victories against two of the group opponents, the Germans are not expecting an easy ride as a result of the draw, held in Frankfurt am Main on Monday.
"It will certainly be difficult," said team captain and three-times Women's World Player of the Year, Birgit Prinz, who recently announced plans to retire after the World Cup.
Team trainer Silvia Neid remained philosophical about the opposition.
"I just have to take whatever we get," said Neid. "In that regard, I'm satisfied. We are happy that we know who we are going to play against."
Convincing victories no guarantee of success
The Germans last faced the North Americans as recently as September 15 in a warm-up fixture, winning that match 5-0. It is a result that Prinz thinks is unlikely to be repeated in the tournament's opening game.
Teams from 16 nations will take part in a tournament hosted by nine German cities next summer
"That is not the norm," said Prinz. "It was a warm-up game that went relatively well for us. I don't think that the opening game will be settled so decisively."
Last Thursday, Germany's women also demolished a hopelessly overwhelmed Nigeria side 8-0 in Leverkusen. However, Nigeria's "Super Falcons" are a dominant force in African women's football.
France could prove a tougher test, since they are the fourth-rated women's side in Europe after Germany, Sweden and Norway.
Thirty-two matches will be staged between the opening game and the July 17 final, with Augsburg, Berlin, Bochum, Dresden, Frankfurt, Leverkusen, Moenchengladbach, Sinsheim and Wolfsburg as host cities.
The groups for the Women's World Cup 2011 in Germany:
Author: Richard Connor (dpa, SID)
Editor: Joanna Impey