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Next week, we play away to World Champions Germany in our last UEFA Championship group match and I am really looking forward to it, writes Jessica Fishlock.
This is going to be a huge challenge for us and a stepping stone to see how far we have come in the campaign, since we played Germany in our first match a year ago. The coverage will be really good over there and I can't wait!
When we first played them at Haverfordwest, it ended in a 6-0 defeat for us but the scoreline did not reflect the way the game had gone, as they scored three times in the last ten minutes when we were tired. But to line up against players like Birgit Prinz and Renate Lingor was really good.
We felt that we gave them too much time on the ball and couldn't close their full backs down but now, with our change of formation, we have a lot more protection due to our two wide players. It was a real education to play against them, when we came off the pitch we talked about their movement, it was simple but so effective. It was so hard to read what they are going do as it is almost telepathic, you are almost reacting instead.
In our last game against Switzerland, once again we were on the wrong end of a close match and it has been the story of the whole campaign for us. Our general play was good and Switzerland didn't create many chances, unfortunately we made individual errors which turned out to be costly.
For me, I had the frustration of putting my feet up as I had to serve a one-match suspension for picking up two bookings. It was a nightmare - the first time I have missed a competitive game since I first played for Wales and it was horrible. This was a game where we had a chance to get some points and I admit I was a little depressed not to be there, it took me a little time to find out the result and it was disappointing to hear we had lost. It was especially bad after the way I was booked - neither yellow card was for a foul and were for something petty, so it was not nice at all.
With Jayne Ludlow also missing that game, it was great to see my Bristol Academy team mate Emma Jones given the captaincy for the match against Switzerland. 'Vinnie' is a great defender who never gets the credit she deserves, she is a player who is always there and a good role model - it was great for her to be named as captain and a shame that she couldn't get a win.
Even though results might suggest otherwise, it has been a good campaign for us - after all, it is our first at the highest level. To play against the likes of Germany and Holland has been great and we want more of it. We have gone in at the deep end at the first attempt, I think we were drawn in the toughest of the groups but we have not been overwhelmed.
We have learned that our mistakes are punished at this level and that is the difference. Also, we have to learn how to break teams down at this level, it was not so much a problem early on as we made chances but didn't finish. Now, we're not creating quite so often but that could be due to the change of formation, once we have nailed it down and got used to it we will be okay. Not taking our chances probably cost us the game against Holland, and I was culpable as well when I shot just wide, so it is vital to make the most of them against these teams and we have realised that now.
The important thing is that we have improved over the past year and we will be good for the experience. It has been great to play alongside Jayne Ludlow as she is our best and most revered player and always plays well, Natalie Holt has had a good campaign and always does well for us at the back. Gwennan Harries is getting better every time and Loren Dykes has come into the squad and made a promising start at this level. But everyone has done their job and played well, so hopefully we can round it off with a good performance against Germany, and a good result - you never know!
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