The game against Brazil 100 days before the start of the World Cup should be an endurance test for the DFB women. It will be a game in which the team coached by Martina Voss-Tecklenburg is at times overwhelmed. Then there is a lot of self-criticism, but also hope for a déjà vu.
32,587 fans were absolutely willing to freak out, transforming Nuremberg’s Max Morlock Stadium into a party stronghold. They came because they wanted to see the German women’s national soccer team play against Brazil and would much rather win. They came in large numbers, many probably attracted by the hype and upswing since the successful European Championships in England. It was supposed to be a football festival, the DFB had campaigned hard for it.
And those who were interested came in large numbers. Also because it should be Dzsenifer Marozsán’s last game. The 30-year-old, who resigns with her 112th international match because after her cruciate ligament tear, the double burden of club and country selection is too much. Equipped with Germany flags by the national team fan club, ready to celebrate. That became clear just before kick-off when Marozsán was honored, it became clear when Marozsán came on in the 64th minute, and it became clear in stoppage time. Jule Brand briefly gave them the power to justifiably burst into thunderous applause. The young offensive player from VfL Wolfsburg scored in the DFB team’s game against Brazil in the 90th +2 minute to make it 2-1. Too late to ensure complete euphoria. But at least a reasonably conciliatory ending after a game in which the Brazilians had the events completely under their control for long stretches. At least the many young fans who crowded the gang after the final whistle seemed reconciled by Brand to get as close as possible to their stars.
According to Voss-Tecklenburg, the DFB team lacks “freshness”
But the consolation goal for the team and the trainer was far from enough. “We got into the game really, really badly. We weren’t even on the pitch for the first 16 or 17 minutes,” said a critical national coach at the press conference after the game. Martina Voss-Tecklenburg emphasized exactly 100 days before the start of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand: “We know that we need 100 percent in all areas, not just in terms of footballing quality, but also in terms of tackling and resilience.” Your team lacks “the freshness that we had at the European Championships”.
The European Championship is the new benchmark for the DFB team. The vice title has not only brought many new fans, it also raises expectations. On the fact that the World Cup will be at least as successful. But there is still a lot to do before then, and the players know that too. “If we play like that, we won’t get far at the World Cup,” said Lena Oberdorf self-critically. And Alexandra Popp explained: “We are aware that the way we played today will not be enough at the World Cup.” She captained the team onto the pitch but had to be substituted after half-time due to foot pain. They “didn’t do a lot of things the way we planned,” said Sydney Lohmann, who came into play for Popp.
At the same time, the Bayern offensive player commented: “But maybe it was the right time. The games showed us the toughness we can expect at the World Cup.” She also looked back on the game against the Netherlands, which ended in a flattering 1-0 win on Good Friday thanks to outstanding performances by goalkeepers Merle Frohms and Ann-Katrin Berger. Brazil, as those responsible for the DFB had emphasized in advance, is a good test on the way to the World Cup because the South Americans have a similar structure to the German opponents in the preliminary round, Colombia. In addition, the Brazilians can already be opponents of the DFB selection in the round of 16.
103 days until the first World Cup game
“The to-do list hasn’t gotten any shorter,” said Voss-Tecklenburg even after the defeat. She listed several points that her team needs to do better. The players were much too hectic at the beginning, the positioning was not right, especially at the corner, after which the 0:2 fell through Ari Borges (37th), a lot went wrong. “We concede unfortunate goals. That shouldn’t happen in this form,” said central defender Sara Doorsoun. Especially when they conceded the second goal after a short corner, the German defense was collectively too passive, goalkeeper Berger didn’t look good either and so the ball sailed into the goal without resistance.
“We are not alert enough to prevent that at this level. We have to minimize mistakes because they are punished at this level,” said Voss-Tecklenburg. The fast and dribbling Brazilians gave the team problems, balls were lost far too quickly, many relay passes came to an abrupt end, the DFB team could not attack the compact South Americans of successful coach Pia Sundhage. The Swede, who once led the USA to two Olympic gold medals and only lost to Germany in the final of the 2016 Olympic Games with her home country, is now expected to lead the record winners of the South American Championship to the World Cup title. According to Voss-Tecklenburg, the game was good for “a reminder to know that the international level is getting better and better”. 103 days remain until the German start of the World Cup against Morocco (July 24, 10:30 a.m. in the ntv.de live ticker).
103 days in which the players only once return to their teams. Many of them will face each other on Saturday when FC Bayern and VfL Wolfsburg meet in the semifinals of the DFB Cup. Both teams are also dueling for the championship and the women from Lower Saxony are still playing for a place in the final of the Champions League. Many other tasks until the start of the World Cup, until which the DFB has only scheduled two international matches with opponents still open.
Popp: “We are aware of what we can do”
But despite all self-criticism – the unconvincing games against the Netherlands and Brazil also give the team courage. Because it could be a positive déjà vu and because they are self-confident and know their strengths. “We are still aware of what we can do,” said Popp, and the national coach also explained that it was “not right to be fundamentally concerned”. Last year there was also a lot of skepticism about the start of the tournament. Exactly one year ago, the DFB selection lost in the World Cup qualifier against Serbia, against a team that has never qualified for an international tournament. The mood before the EM was meager, hardly anyone believed the DFB selection great – only the players themselves had faith and announced that they wanted to play for the title.
And so both the national coach and the players are currently quite relaxed. “We know what we have to do, but we don’t have to panic either,” said Doorsoun. And Voss-Tecklenburg also found something positive in the defeat against Brazil: “Whenever we play quickly into the right space, if we’re brave, the opponent also has problems with us.” What is missing is just “a bit of consistency, the self-confidence has to be restored”. 32,572 fans in Nuremberg should have shown the team that the starting position for the World Cup is completely different than last year. You want to see a successful team play. “That’s really nice, so much sympathy comes back,” said Voss-Tecklenburg, pleased with the encouragement. “It makes the evening a bit nicer and enriches it.”