After losing in the semi-finals of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup to the United States, the German national team is getting another bite at crowning themselves as the best in the world at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. They face off against a determined Sweden side who have already knocked off the USA behind stalwart defense and a never-die attitude.
The winding path to the Gold Medal Game
The DFB Frauen almost didn’t make it to this point. They finished 2nd in their group on goal differential cobbling together just a minuscule four points in group play. Their 6-1 thrashing of Zimbabwe gave way to a 2-2 draw against Australia. That draw saw them enter the Canada game in a situation where an Australian win by sufficient margin against Zimbabwe and a German loss would see them out. They lost that match in stressful fashion, 2-1, but advanced with Australia failing to reach the goals required.
The knockouts were no less stressful for Germany as they barely escaped the quarterfinals, earning a 1-0 win over China despite gifting a late penalty that was sent off the post. What awaited them next was a thrilling 2-0 revenge win over Canada with Bayern stalwarts Melanie Behring and Sara Daebritz notching the goals to send Germany into Friday’s gold medal game
The Olympics are the Bayern Munich Show
The Olympic performances from Germany have largely been accomplished on the back of stellar performances from their Bayern Munich contingent
Melanie Behringer was the lone goal scorer in the win over China while she opened the scoring in Germany’s 2-0 revenge win over Canada from the penalty spot. In the group stage, her secondary runs from midfield provided Germany with a potent attacking threat. She assisted on a goal in the Australia game while she added another goal from the spot in their loss to Canada to go along with a brace in the Zimbabwe game. She has scored or assisted in every game of the tournament and leads the tournament in scoring.
Behringer has been far from alone in impact performances though. Sarah Däbritz notched the opener in their win over Zimbabwe before adding another in the win over Canada while fellow Bayern teammate Melanie Leupolz registered a goal and assist in the Zimbabwe game as well.
Contrary to Germany’s free flowing attacking and passing, Sweden are a defensively stout side. Their resilience saw them defeat the USA on penalties in the quarterfinals, handing the US their first ever exit of the Olympic competition.
Germany’s game will hinge on whether they can get Melanie Behringer involved in secondary play from midfield. Their striker corps has proven suspect at finishing this whole tournament and while they generate chance after chance, their profligacy in front of goal is their biggest weakness. That is a weakness that will get magnified against a side like Sweden.
They need Behringer and her midfield partner — usually Melanie Leupolz — to be dynamic two-way players in the middle. Late support runs on offense and limiting the Sweden counterattack through the middle on defense are going to be the keys to earning Germany’s first goal medal in women’s football.
How to Watch
The women’s soccer gold medal match takes place tomorrow at 4:30pm ET directly following the completion of the Bayern Munich men’s opening fixture of the DFB Pokal against Carl Zeiss Jena. You’re already going to be in front of the screen of your choice, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be preparing to root on Germany and it’s Bayern Frauen contingent tomorrow.
Friday, August 19th, Germany vs Sweden, 4:30pm ET, Marcana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro
USA: NBCSN, Telemundo, NBC Universo, NBC Sport Live (streaming)
Canada: CBC Sports Live (streaming only)
UK: BBC Red Button (streaming only)
Check the listings for your country