Germany will aim to win their ninth European Championship when they take on hosts England at Wembley. Sarina Wiegman’s side have been superb throughout the last month, scoring at will against tough opponents while also being defensively solid. However, there remain some vulnerabilities that Martina Voss-Tecklenburg and her players can exploit on Sunday afternoon.
Isolate England’s full-backs
On two separate occasions, England’s full-backs have been shown to struggle when isolated out wide. In their quarter-final, the halftime introduction of Athenea del Castillo seemed to overwhelm left-back Rachel Daly, with Spain finding plenty of joy down her flank. Indeed, Spain’s goal came from del Castillo being too quick for the Houston Dash player, who in turn mistimed her challenge and allowed the Real Madrid winger to assist Esther González to open the scoring.
Daly typically is not a defender, having spent her club career further forward. Though she was improved against Sweden in the semi-final, there will be plenty of encouragement for both Svenja Huth and Giulia Gwinn to use their pace and trickery to cause issues for the 30-year-old, given that Gwinn often causes havoc with her movement in the opposition’s defensive third.
Meanwhile, on the other wing, Lucy Bronze appeared vulnerable in the first-half against Sweden. Ferocious pressure from Fridolina Rolfö caused the Barcelona defender problems, as she was unable to contain their threat going forward. Bronze will certainly be a threat in attack, but again there will have been encouraging signs for Jule Brand and Felicitas Rauch, particularly if the duo combines to cause an overload on the right flank. Having recently admitted that she has been playing in this tournament with knee pain, Brand’s athleticism could make it a tough afternoon for the 2020 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year.
Putting pressure on England’s midfield and defence
Another lesson from Spain’s performance in the quarter-final Martina Voss-Tecklenburg could apply is how their pressure caused problems for England’s midfield. Both Keira Walsh and Georgia Stanway have been influential with their use of possession throughout the tournament. Yet under Spanish pressure they were afforded far less time on the ball, making it harder for England to create chances as freely as they had done previously.
Lena Oberdorf therefore will have a key role in disrupting England’s on-ball rhythm, with her superb tackling and ability to make interceptions having been significantly helpful for Germany’s progress in the tournament. She will be helped by the energetic Lina Magull, who is as diligent defensively as she is effective in the final third. Sara Däbritz has been quieter for Germany but her all-around strengths should equally benefit her team in imposing themselves in the middle of the pitch.
What will also help Voss-Tecklenburg’s side is the defensive press from their frontline, with Alexandra Popp having forced her opponents into crucial mistakes that have resulted in German goals. This will be crucial as England’s centre-backs have consistently looked to play out from the back, supporting their midfield as a result. A strong collective press will cause significant problems for England and having achieved plenty of success with similar tactics in their previous games, Germany will certainly aim to force England into turnovers whenever they have the ball.
Providing Popp with aerial crosses
For all her strengths and impressive displays in this tournament, England’s goalkeeper Mary Earps remains vulnerable when it comes to dealing with aerial threats. She has shown a hesitation to catch lofted crosses that come her way, particularly in their last two matches.
With Popp having scored four of her six goals in the air, she will be eager to inflict more aerial damage. Her timing and her ability to generate so much power from her headers make her a huge threat to contain, with even the continent’s best defenders struggling to stop her from nodding in any crosses or set pieces.
Currently joint-tied for the Golden Boot with England’s Beth Mead, providing enough chances for the Wolfsburg striker will go a long way to securing the victory for Germany at Wembley.