Germany and Sweden are about to battle for the Women's World Cup championship near Los Angeles. The match begins Sunday at 1700 UTC (10:00 a.m. local).
Germany won the European championship in 2001 and was the dominating team in European qualifying for this World Cup with six wins in as many games. Germany comes to the final as the only undefeated team in the tournament, having beaten the heavily favored defending champion United States, 3-0, in the semifinals.
While the Germans took second place at the 1995 Women's World Cup, they appear on the verge of finally claiming the title.
Defense has kept opponents frustrated, while German striker Brigit Prinz has scored more goals in the tournament than any other player with seven. The 26-year-old Prinz finished second to American Mia Hamm for FIFA [fee-fuh] World Women's Player of the Year in 2002.
Former U.S. head coach Tony DiCicco thinks Germany is one of the best. "Germany is a wonderful team with wonderful talent all over the place," he said. "And they are a deep team. [Forward] Brigit Prinz is one of the great players in the world, and [forward] Maren Meinert. [Forward Martina] Mueller is playing well. [Midfielder] Bettina Weigmann is a tremendous player."
The Germans will have to get past a determined Swedish team that strongly believes it has a chance to win the tournament. In the past three Women's World Cups, the Swedes have reached the quarterfinals each time. Sweden's previous best World Cup was a third place finish in 1991.
This year, Sweden again proved it can play with the top teams at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. There, Sweden held Norway, Canada and the United States to a draw, giving it hope it can remain steady against the formidable Germans.