The fifth FIFA Women's World Cup is under way in China. VOA's Jim Stevenson was at the opening game in Shanghai Monday where defending champion Germany made a bold statement.
Fireworks burst over Hongkou Stadium as hundreds of performers danced and twirled in a lavish opening ceremony. However, defending champion Germany had all of the fireworks on the field as it humiliated Argentina, 11-0.
Argentina goalkeeper Vanina Correa gave up the first goal of the tournament in the 12th minute when she deflected a German corner kick into the net. For the rest of the evening, she was bombarded by the relentless Germans, who had five goals by halftime.
German captain Birgit Prinz scored three times as did forward Sandra Smisek. Correa mishandled another corner kick for the final German goal. Prinz says her team was not trying to run up the score against Argentina.
"It is not our fault," said Prinz. "We tried our best. We try to play the best football can. And we prepared for this World Cup."
Although falling behind the top-rated United States in the world rankings since winning the 2003 World Cup, Germany comes into this tournament perhaps stronger than four years ago. If the opening game is any indication, the rest of the 16-nation field could be playing for second place.
But German coach Silvia Neid is trying to remain cautious despite the big win.
"The message to the other opponents is that they know we are in good shape now. That also means we have to be prepared for the next game against England," said Neid. "That will be a totally different game."
The U.S. women also have formidable lineup, and begin their campaign in Chengdu later Tuesday against North Korea.