Asante full of confidence for German test

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The Independent Online

The defender Anita Asante believes England will be at their peak when they face Germany in tonight's European Championship final.

England lost their opening game of the tournament when Italy defeated them 2-1 and they only managed to win one group-stage match when they eclipsed Russia 3-2. But hard-fought victories over both Finland and the Netherlands in the knockout stages have put the team into the final without them hitting top form.

However, Asante insists that England are more than capable of producing when it matters. "We didn't start the Euros particularly well," she said, "but I'm sure that goes for a lot of teams. We've 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 on Thursday. I just hope we've saved our best performance for the final. I'm really excited about the game," she said. "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."

Germany are looking for their fifth straight European title and won all three of their group games. They possess real quality but Asante says England have not let that, or the fact that this is their first European final for 25 years, prevent them from focusing on their own strengths.

"I know it's a cliché, but we've just been taking each game as it comes, the way we always do," Asante said. "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'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."

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