Next year is set to be a watershed in European women's football but there was plenty to remember in 2008.
WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ runs from 23 August until 10 September next year,
with a record 12 teams involved in the finals and hosts Finland hoping
for an average attendance of more than 10,000. The organisers will no
doubt hope for as much excitement as there was in the qualifying group
stage. While first holders Germany and then Sweden clinched automatic
finals places with games to spare and ultimately perfect records, the
other four groups went to last-match deciders where the teams in second
were at home to the leaders. In two the home sides overtook their
opponents, France beating Iceland 2-1 and Denmark defeating Ukraine
1-0, while England came from two goals down to get the 2-2 draw they
needed in Spain and Norway held Russia 0-0.
that point, only one of the eight 2005 finalists, Italy, were not
already through but they defeated the Czech Republic 3-1 on aggregate
in the play-offs to put that right. Iceland, Ukraine and the
Netherlands reached the finals for the first time, defeating the
Republic of Ireland, Slovenia and Spain respectively, while Russia
repeated their 2001 feat but needed away goals to see off Scotland. The
draw was held in Helsinki on 18 November: the full fixture list can be
seen by clicking here.
to the end of qualifying, Germany, Sweden and Norway travelled to China
for the Olympics. Sweden and Norway fell in the quarter-finals and
after losing to Brazil, Germany clinched a third consecutive bronze
medal 2-0 against Japan while the United States pipped Brazil for gold.
Still, Germany will aim for a third straight FIFA Women's World Cup at
home after being named 2011 hosts.
youth level Germany won the first UEFA European Women's Under-17
Championship in May in Nyon but two months later lost their grip on the
U19 title, Italy beating Norway in the final in France. In the
inaugural FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand, Germany beat
England 3-0 for third place while North Korea took the title against
the United States. Similarly, in the U20 event in Chile, Germany
overcame France to claim the bronze medal, while the US turned the
tables on holders North Korea in the final.
Women's Champions League
club level, the UEFA Women's Cup will be transformed in 2009/10 after
it was announced in December that a new UEFA Women's Champions League
will take its place, with more entries, more two-legged knockout
rounds, and a one-off decider on the eve of the UEFA Champions League
final in the same city. That said, the 2007/08 UEFA Women's Cup final
was memorable enough after 1. FFC Frankfurt and Umeå IK beat ASD CF
Bardolino Verona and Olympique Lyonnais in the last four.
Frankfurt thrill fans
the victors to become the first three-time winners, Marta scored in the
opening seconds of Umeå's home leg only for Frankfurt to peg back to
1-1 and in the return a week later a competition record crowd of 27,640
was thrilled by the German side's 3-2 victory. However, Frankfurt
departed the 2008/09 edition in the quarter-finals against league
rivals FCR 2001 Duisburg. Duisburg will meet Lyon in the semi-finals in
the spring while another club new to the tournament, Zvezda-2005 of
Russia, face Umeå.