England, Germany and Norway boast the only 100% records on the road to China 2007.
FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying ended for the year when England beat the Netherlands 1-0 in Zwolle last Thursday to maintain their perfect record in Group 5. Only two other teams boast one hundred percent starts, UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005 winners Germany and runners-up Norway.
Norway coach Bjarne Berntsen told uefa.com he was "pleased with the progress" his side have made in 2005, as the battle to qualify for the 2007 Women's World Cup in China heats up.
The Scandinavian side have carried that form into this section, knocking in nine goals and conceding just one in winning their three matches to date. The most recent of those came against Italy, who had won their two previous qualifiers under new coach Pietro Ghedin. If the Azzurre are to realistically win the section from Norway and seal a passage to China it is imperative that they win the return on 23 September next year. The group resumes on 25 March when Norway travel to face point-less Greece.
Sweden recovered from being surprisingly held by Iceland in their opening game to defeat Belarus 6-0 and Portugal 4-1. The Scandinavian side lead the section on goal difference from the Czech Republic, whose best result was the 1-0 victory against Iceland in their second round of games. The Icelanders are three points further back in third.
Sweden's trip to the Czech Republic on 22 April is likely to have a major bearing on who wins the pool. "We have talented players in Sweden but what we are missing is a new Victoria Svensson or Hanna Ljungberg," said coach Thomas Dennerby.
Although Belgium are adrift at the foot of the pool having failed to earn a point from four games, the top four teams are separated by just one point.
Denmark lead the way after winning their opening two games and drawing their most recent in Spain, with the Iberians also on seven points but having played a game more. The Danes and EURO 2005 semi-finalists Finland were expected to dominate the pool, but the Finns' home loss to Spain after two opening victories blew the group open.
Tina Theune-Meyer may have handed over the reins to Silvia Neid but the facts remain the same: Germany are without peer in European football. The holders have scored 13 goals in three games, with Russia's Galina Komarova the only player to score past Silke Rottenberg. The Russians had won three games prior to that 5-1 loss, and are comfortably in second spot ahead of the Republic of Ireland and Scotland who each have a point.
This group promises to go all the way to the final match, when France tackle England on 30 September 2006. The French made a miserable start in losing 1-0 to the Netherlands at home, but have since regrouped to defeat Austria and Hungary by two-goal margins. In contrast, England plundered a record 13 goals against the Hungarians and beat Austria 4-1 prior to that 1-0 success in the Netherlands.
©uefa.com 1998-2005. All rights reserved.