ICYMI: Germany put the entire 2022 EURO field on notice yesterday with a clear demolition of heavy contenders Spain. Match highlights below, plus talking points with some Bayern Munich emphasis!
Defense steps up
After a shock 3-2 loss to Serbia earlier this year, questions swirled about Germany’s defense, but they stepped up big-time. Departing Bayern Munich player Marina Hegering was vital in her leadership of the back-line, disrupting Spanish attacks as well as springing German counter-initiatives. She picked up a deserved Player of the Match award, but the entire unit answered the call with physicality and discipline.
Two totally different games
Part of what make Germany so impressive right now is the high contrast in their two displays thus far. They smothered Denmark and poured it on, then absorbed punch after punch against a highly technical and creative Spain. This is no one-trick pony of a team. The individual talent is there, but what really make them dangerous is the cohesion and the good answers to very different opponents.
Two incredibly similar goals
In the end, the decisive action came about in remarkably familiar ways. First, clever work pressing from the front led to a smash-and-grab opener — this time Bayern’s Klara Bühl creating and finishing her own goal. Then it was another set piece to double the advantage — Vfl Wolfsburg’s Alexandra Popp nodding on in much the same manner Bayern’s Lea Schüller did last Friday.
It shows the hallmarks of Germany’s game didn’t leave with the adaptations to the gameplan.
Spanish tiki-taka with a side of Nags
Watching Spain in possession, I was reminded of Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern. They had a back four on paper but built up through a 3+1 (Manchester City’s Laia Aleixandri as a single pivot). They circulated the ball with ease if not with success and routinely tried to play in behind the last line.
As BFW’s Fergus25 pointed out, though, it also had the hallmarks of Nagelsmann’s worst results. “Confused and crowded”, as Fergus put it. Few truly excellent chances and a massive under-performance of xG had me relieved I was rooting for the team in the opposite colors today.
Germany 2-0 Spain: Just like in their first #WEURO2022 game against Finland, Spain fall behind early. Unlike in that match, they fail to come from behind.— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) July 12, 2022
Germany scored with their first two shots on target inside 36 minutes & Spain never recovered. pic.twitter.com/ofvpudAiK5
The needless early deficit gave me flashbacks to the German men’s performance in the 2021 EURO, as well. Yikes!
Bonus notes: subs watch
Left-back Sophia Kleinherne came on for Felicitas Rauch and delivered a stout and confident performance by my eye. That’s good, as she’ll be in line to start against Finland caught the eye today with a number of clever defensive interventions. She looked confident and composed and will be in line to start against Finland on Saturday with Rauch suspended on yellow accumulation.
There might be something brewing in midfield, too: Lena Lattwein, who scored against Denmark, came on at half-time and Bayern’s Linda Dallman also got a run out. Will there be any changes ahead of Lena Oberdorf by the quarter-finals?
Speaking of Oberdorf, she’s out for Finland too after her second yellow. Curious to see how coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg will replace her six.
In the end, a commanding performance by a German team certain to be among the heaviest favorites now. It won’t get any easier from here, though, and I’ll admit there were still nervy moments and small things to address. That was an awful lot of possession to cede, and a counter-attacking masterclass is harder to put on a good team without an early goal, which won’t always be there.
Still — it’s a marathon with a lot of race left to run. So far, so good.
(Get better soon, Lea!)
Who was your Player of the Match?