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Germany undone by Colombia stunner: Reflecting with observations on the match

A 1-2 defeat puts the Germans in slightly precarious position in Group H. Here’s how it happened.

Germany v Colombia: Group H - FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Germany suffered heartbreak in their second game at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup — a last-minute collapse to Colombia after having just equalized near the end of regular time. Late dramatics aside, 18-year-old Linda Caicedo’s tricky feet and sensational goal to open the scoring were the story of a quality game full of twists and turns. Don’t miss the highlights on this one.

The 1-2 defeat puts the Germans under some pressure heading into their final match, though qualification to the knockout stages is still the probable outcome.

Still, it was a shaky display for the EURO 2022 finalists.

Timid in attack

Against Morocco, Germany had seemed to press the issue too much: turning and playing through the lines whether or not the opportunity was there. Against Colombia, they may have over-corrected, shying away from bolder actions and leaning on the backpass to a stultifying degree.

Magull’s hesitancy to pull the trigger results in a backpass.
Peacock / NBC Universo

This early sequence typified Germany’s day. Here Jule Brand has just run a dummy and is breaking through the line. If Lina Magull can thread it through, Brand is through on a goal. Chantal Hagel is also there to be played into a crossing position on the left wing.

Instead, Magull cycles it back to Sara Däbritz deeper in midfield. The ball does then work its way back to Hagel and then Brand, but under far more easily defended circumstances. The Bayern Munich star didn’t have the best of days pulling the strings for Germany and was the first substitute off.

Magull should spot Bühl on the turn but resets play instead.
Peacock / NBC Universo

Here Germany have just won the ball back on their left flank. Magull collects centrally as Colombia scramble to reset, many of their players pulled to one side of the field and now trailing the action. At least, they would be if Magull passes to Klara Bühl, who is sitting in acres of space on the wing.

However, Magull hesitates and the moment is lost again. Though she’s pictured here picking her head up and spotting Bühl, she instead turns back, runs into pressure from Catalina Usme (#11), and passes back to the center-backs.

Another moment of idling on the ball invites pressure and a missed opportunity.
Peacock / NBC Universo

In this passage, Magull is under considerable pressure but doesn’t spot Däbritz’s run. A few extra touches and the ball is cycled backwards once more.

Several passes later it’s Däbritz who hesitates to send the ball upfield and lands herself in pressure. Eventually Hagel, deep and on the flank, catches the ball before it rolls out of bounds and clears it straight to the Colombia center-backs.

Making use of Oberdorf as the number six might at least move the defense around and open up possibilities.
Peacock / NBC Universo

This time, it’s center-back Kathrin Hendrich on the ball with a chance to feed defensive midfielder Lena Oberdorf in a pocket of space. Oberdorf was one of Germany’s top performers on the night and a steady, comfortable playmaker — a pass here, even if it just goes back to defense, shifts the Colombian markers around.

The pass goes instead, not under pressure, to center-back partner Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh. In doing so, the Colombian press doesn’t have to move at all — the passing lanes to Oberdorf close naturally and they are already positioned on the ball-carrier. With no compelling options nearby Doorsoun-Khajeh hoofs it down the field, where it’s easily intercepted.

Passing off point

Germany’s lack of smoothness didn’t only come down to indecision and lack of creativity, however. For a game they largely controlled (at least in possession — 68%) they kept offering the opposition chances to steal the rhythm with loose touches and loose passes, especially out of defense.

Errant passes into space once again could have resulted in far more punishment.
Peacock / NBC Universo

Here, left-back Hagel — filling in for Felicitas Rauch — is under relatively little pressure and has Däbritz safely in open green in front of her. Hagel takes a split-second too long and overcooks what should be a layoff. Instead it’s a straight pass to Colombia in the center of the pitch.

Misjudgments clipped strong attacking opportunities, too.
Peacock / NBC Universo

It wasn’t only the defense; everyone, from Oberdorf to Brand had their share of misplaced passes. Here it’s Alexandra Popp demonstrating how it was just one of those days — playing with her back towards goal, she has Brand on the wing careening into space but sends the lay-off beyond her run and clear out of bounds. Had Brand managed to collect, it would have dragged her wide and out of threatening positions.

One of the moments where Germany really had Colombia on the break.
Peacock / NBC Universo

Here Popp again is on the ball, carrying as Germany break. Brand is floating into space centrally beside her while Bühl bombs down the wing. Colombia are properly at sixes and sevens here — but Popp’s pass goes straight to the defense instead of tracking Brand’s movement.

By the numbers Germany completed 84% of their passes. But it was the crispness where it counted, and too often where it didn’t, that resulted in possession rarely failing to amount to much.

Germany came close

More technique and precision, particularly in midfield and defense, stand as the biggest obstacles to Germany raining down the goals. Because there is surely explosive talent up top that has just not had the chance to shine yet.

It must be said that they did have their chances to write a different story this game, though. Let’s look at some of those missed opportunities.

Popp’s great look at an early goal went unnoticed.
Peacock / NBC Universo

Here Magull has just scuffed a terrific shooting opportunity in the box. Oberdorf latches on to the pieces and can’t be blamed for taking her chances. But there at the back post is Popp, free and unmarked and in great position to strike an early dagger through the heart of Colombia’s defense. Instead, Oberdorf’s shot, predictably, careens into a sea of defenders.

Excellent construction inside the box, sans the end product.
Peacock / NBC Universo

A nice give-and-go between Brand and Magull results in this pass towards Oberdorf at the top of the box. Brand skips over the ball and continues her run — her off-the-ball attacking movement has been consistently threatening — and Oberdorf tries to play her in. It’s intercepted, but the loose ball comes to Popp who has an amazing chance to bury it. But the shot is high and wide.

Just a little high!
Peacock / NBC Universo

This time, Brand has marauded down the right flank and sent not one but two crosses into the box from the same dribble. Her second chance cross flashes towards Magull, who has plenty of open net to not into — but unfortunately the ball sails too high and above her head.

So while Germany could have been much, much sharper, it wasn’t entirely abject.

Of course Colombia had their own missed opportunities. In the 86th minute, leading 1-0, they almost put the game away with Mayra Ramírez busting Germany’s backline for pace and fizzing a low cross across the face of Merle Frohms’ goal. The German keeper is well beaten, but somehow Linda Caicedo doesn’t manage to latch on for a back post tap-in.

Late drama, fine margins

Germany looked to have rescued it late after Oberdorf won a penalty, converted by Popp in the 89th minute. In fact, it was Germany pushing for the win late — playing with increased urgency and carving out space in and around the Colombia box deep into extra time. Yet no goal threat emerged from them, while Colombia swung it around the other end and hit paydirt at 90+7’.

Let’s look at how it happened.

Popp’s chances to at least play for a corner — but she cuts back into traffic instead.
Peacock / NBC Universo

Germany enjoyed some real initiative in stoppage time. Here is Popp in the 95th minute bursting free down the right wing, played in expertly by Nicole Anyomi, who had won the ball to start this attack. Popp has multiple chances to win a corner or at least take a shot at goal — but opts to cut it back and has the ball nicked away.

Germany win it again in a scramble but even the cross doesn’t come in: instead, a low, threaded ball is cut out and cleared.

Colombia make no mistake here and show the value of taking scraps.
Peacock / NBC Universo

Colombia waste no time off the clearance — playing Ramírez in, who races ahead of Hendrich, her defender. Ramírez doesn’t have the luxury of options around her and pulls the trigger immediately, winning a corner.

Set piece defending falls apart.
Peacock / NBC Universo

From that corner, Colombia score the winner. Jorelyn Carabali — later stretchered off after a collision at the other end — is able to box out the nearest marker. Germany have five players in the six-yard box but nobody in a position to clear off the line. Manuela Vanegas picks out the low corner and places her header; Frohms dives but is too late.

And just like that, Colombia were in raptures. While it hurts to deal in clichés, it certainly felt like the game was won by the team that wanted it more. Germany will have much to ponder.

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