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  Monday, 25 June, 2001, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Tired England looking to improve
England's goalscorer Angela Banks
Banks has shown her football and linguistic skills
By BBC Sport Online's women's football correspondent Tony Leighton in Germany

England's tournament base Erfurt was bathed in sunshine on a beautiful Sunday - and it was equally hot 35 miles down the road in Jena, where Hope Powell's team kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 draw against Russia.

It was not the best of performances against a team they felt quietly confident of beating.

The Russians have a reputation for playing in a rigid, defensive style but they produced a performance of pace and power with a high level of technical ability.

Angela Banks
Banks can speak fluent Swedish
They will have been more disappointed with the result than England, whose players were clearly suffering from fatigue in the closing stages thanks to the intense heat and a lush pitch.

Arsenal striker Angela Banks, who scored England's goal just before half-time, admitted in the post-match press conference that she and her colleagues had found the conditions difficult.

But she was nevertheless confident that they could produce a better performance on Wednesday against Sweden, a country she knows well after playing club football there in her late teens and early twenties.

Asked somewhat patronisingly by a Swede at the conference if she could manage to answer a question in his language, the gentlemen got a smug and lengthy reply - in fluent Swedish!

The first round of Euro 2001 matches will be completed on Monday, when the four Group B teams are in action following the two Group A games on the weekend.

While England and their first-stage opponents are based in the central German region of Thuringia, the Group B sides will be playing their matches in the south of the country at venues in Baden-Warttemberg.

Attractive landscape

The first game to kick-off will be the meeting of Italy and Denmark in Aalen, a fitting place for the Italians to start their campaign as the town is rich in Roman history.

Today it is an important industrial centre set in an attractive landscape which contains several important archeological sites from the ancient predecessors of the Azzurri.

The game takes place in the town's Waldstadion, while two hours later group favourites Norway will be taking on France in nearby Ulm.

A university city whose cathedral boasts the tallest church spire in the world, Ulm is the main Euro 2001 centre with both of the semi-finals and the final scheduled to be played there in the first week of July.


Final

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Group A

Group B

Tournament news

Background features

Finals focus

ENGLAND SQUAD
See also:

24 Jun 01 | Womens Euro 2001
24 Jun 01 | Womens Euro 2001
23 Jun 01 | Womens Euro 2001
Links to more Womens Euro 2001 stories are at the foot of the page.


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