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Thursday, 10 September, 2009
Anita Asante hopes England will produce their best performance in the Final.
At 5pm today the England Women's team will take on Germany in the Final of the European Championship, and defender, Anita Asante, knows there would be no better time to peak.
England's opening game of the tournament ended in a 2-1 defeat to Italy and they only triumphed in one group stage match, a 3-2 win over Russia.
This was followed by hard-fought victories over both Finland and Holland in the knockout stages and while it is encouraging to have reached a major Final without finding top gear, Asante knows England are more than capable of producing when it matters.
"We didn't start the Euros particularly well," she admits, "but I'm sure that goes for a lot of teams.
"We've progressed and improved with every game and I suppose that's important in a tournament of this length - you want to peak at the crucial moments and now we're at a crucial moment. We seem to play better in front of big crowds and in big games so we hope that continues. I just hope we've saved our best performance for the Final.
"I'm really excited about the game," she continued. "It's my first Final and for some of the girls it's the first time they've played in a tournament of this size, so to get this far is brilliant.
"We watched Germany's game against Norway and for them to come from behind and score three second-half goals in a semi-final just shows the talent and experience they have in their squad. We know it's going to be a tough game, but we've prepared well and we're ready for the challenge."
Indeed, Germany are looking for their fifth straight European title and they won all three of their group games this time around. Asante is fully aware of the quality the Germans possess, but says England haven't let that, or the fact that this is their first European Final for 25 years, detract from their preparation.
"I know it's a cliche, but we've just been taking each game as it comes, the way we always do. We've prepared for this game as we have every other, because that preparation has got us this far. That's not to say that we're not taking it seriously, of course we are, we just take every match seriously."
So, with the big game just around the corner, what's the mood like on the camp?
"There's a lot of different emotions flying around at the minute," Asante said. "There's an anxiousness, because we all just want to the Final to get here, but there's also an excitement, because we've reached a major Final and we're also excited for our friends, families and supporters back home who we know will be watching.
"We'll be playing the holders in front of a big crowd so we know it's going to be a test, but we just can't wait to play."
You can watch the Final on both BBC2 and Eurosport later today.