It’s hard to find any negatives with Germany’s performances so far at Euro 2022.
Having excelled against Spain and Denmark to make light work of the ‘group of death’, they strolled to a 3-0 win against Finland on Saturday night, knowing that they didn’t need to exhaust themselves before the knockout rounds.
It means they end the group-stages with nine points, three clean sheets and seven different scorers of nine goals. You couldn’t really ask for anything else from Martina Voss-Tecklenburg and her players, who now find themselves considered among the favourites for the tournament.
Now however, they have two games to navigate through before any thoughts of the final, starting with a last-eight clash against Austria on Thursday night.
Ranked 21st in the world, their opponents secured passage to the quarter-finals after a 1-0 win over Norway in their final game. Under Irene Fuhrmann, they’ve been defensively superb throughout the tournament, conceding one goal, against England.
Furthermore, most of the squad play for German clubs, so their players are more of a known quantity for Voss-Tecklenburg and her team. Star midfielder Sarah Zadrazil plays a key role for Bayern Munich, while forward Nicole Billa was Hoffenheim’s joint top scorer in the Frauen Bundesliga last season.
Austria therefore, will also be fully aware of what their opponents are capable of. As was the case against Spain and Denmark, Die Nationalelf were impressive in their final group game win against Finland.
This was despite Voss-Tecklenburg making numerous changes to the starting XI. Some were enforced, with Lena Oberdorf and Felicitas Rauch missing out due to suspension. In total, four switches were made, with the likes of Lina Magull and Kathrin-Julia Hendrich making way for players who hadn’t seen as much action in Linda Dallmann and Sara Doorsoun.
At Milton Keynes, there wasn’t a noticeable drop-off in performance levels from the other two fixtures. Making her first start, full-back Sophia Kleinherne impressed with her energy and scored the opening goal with a powerful header. Doorsoun was assured in central defence, while Dallmann was awarded player of the match by UEFA for her tireless running all night. Coming on in the second half, Nicole Anyomi stood out with an energetic display down the right side, capping it off with a well-taken goal.
There were also plenty of good showings from those who kept their place in the team too. Skipper Alexandra Popp netted again with another header, making her the first German player to score in all three group-stage games. The right-flank combination of Giulia Gwinn and Svenja Huth excelled again in creating problems for Finland with their attacking drive, while creative midfielder Sara Däbritz also shone, showing just why she’s a key player for Voss-Tecklenburg.
With so many good performances coming within the squad and numerous players in-form, it makes for a very interesting team selection from the 54-year-old. Striker Lea Schüller, who started the opening game, has missed the last two games and now returns after testing positive for COVID-19. While she brings excellent movement to the team, it would also be difficult to drop Popp, given she has three goals to her name and has hardly put a foot wrong since she stepped onto the pitch.
Similarly, Dallmann’s performance showed the level of depth at central midfield. With Oberdorf watching on and Magull getting a rest, she took her opportunity superbly on Saturday. Whether it’s enough to earn herself a starting role against Austria remains to be seen, but it causes another selection headache for her head coach. The same could be said about their central defence, with Doorsoun demonstrating that she’s a capable deputy in Marina Hegering’s absence. Both the performances of Anyomi and Kleinherne against Finland would also be deserving of a starting place, yet it is difficult to see who makes way for them with the team injury-free and firing on all cylinders.
Regardless of who ends up starting on Thursday, Voss-Tecklenburg will be certain that she has a squad of players all capable of making an impact against Austria, and whoever comes up next in the tournament should they win.