Martina Voss-Tecklenburg predicted a clash of cultures and Germany won. Spain had more ball, as they said, but it was their ruthless, disciplined and resilient team that emerged victorious from a top-flight battle at Brentford that became such a classic expression of the characters in this team that she is almost at the limit. stereotype. It was also a warning: Germany is a competitor that must be taken very seriously.
“It was exactly that spirit that everyone thinks about with the Germany team, but it was also a great tactical performance,” the coach said. “Some players may have sworn because they didn’t touch the ball much, but they were rewarded with two goals.”
The first, scored by Klara Bühl, came from an early gift. The second, led by Alexandra Popp, came out of a badly defended corner. Together they secured a 2-0 victory which leaves Germany ahead and Spain must draw with Denmark to secure a meeting with England. Also wondering where it went wrong, coach Jorge Vilda said: “on one side there is the game, on the other side there is the result.”
The simplest answer might be early on with the mistake that gave Germany the lead in three minutes, but there was more to it. Spain’s dominance didn’t translate to goals or enough shots on target – a superb late save from Merle Frohms was one of only two. “We would like to have their level of competition, their ability to optimize their chances,” Vilda said. “Some games we have; today we did not.
For Germany, defender Marina Hegering in particular impressed and what about the remarkable Popp, securing another goal on what was something of a first-ever Euros start. It was the second, shortly before the break; the first had come half an hour earlier, Vilda’s warning not to let Germany score first unheard. Against Finland, they trailed after just forty-nine seconds; here it took another ninety, with goalkeeper Sandra Paños passing straight to Bühl, pressing inside the box, and she was done.
Spain had passed nearly two years without falling behind. Now they had done it three games in a row. The good news was that they knew a way back, their identity was clear; the bad news from Germany ahead of them and their first quick chance to turn things around ended with the ball in the side netting. Aitana Bonmatí and Patri Guijarro combined perfectly to dispatch Lucia García but after rounding Frohms the angle was too tight.
In a quarter of an hour, Spain had played 100 passes, Germany only sixteen. Patri’s shot was saved by Frohms and a good effort from the active Mariona Caldentey dove just beyond the post. A little later there was also a nice cut attempt from Bonmatí. But Voss-Tecklenberg expected Spain to have the ball and didn’t care. There was also something a little frantic about it, expressed in Bonmatí calling for calm. And, just as they increased the pressure, Germany scored again, Popp heading for a corner.
It nearly started again early in the second half, but Spain dominated again, with Ona Batlle’s deflected shot skidding, three straight corners ending with Hegering clearing Paredes’ header, and Lucia García finding an opening well worked closed. Bonmatí then freed Lucia García. As fast as she crossed, however, Frohms ran to take the ball off her toe. Despite possession and quality, Spain weren’t creating clear chances against a deep, disciplined defense and Germany were undermining their threat when a long ball nearly freed Popp only for Paredes to bring her down, risking a Red card.
Claudia Pina, Marta Cardona and Athenea del Castillo were all featured, but a natural No.9 was not, and if Spain insisted, the German stood firm. A wonderful pass from Guijarro found Mariona Caldentey who guided a volley towards the goal, where Frohms made a superb save. At the other end, Tabea Wassmuth was suddenly sent to score, a portrait of their threat and all night. The flag went up this time, giving Spain something to chase in the final minutes, but the damage was already done.