WEmbley, they’re coming! The German team also prevailed in the fifth game of the European Championship, won the semi-final against France 2-1 and are now aiming for the title in one of the most traditional venues that football has to offer.
This Sunday (6:00 p.m. CEST in the FAZ live ticker for the European Football Championship, on ARD and on DAZN) in the sold-out English national stadium in London, there will be an all-or-nothing battle for the crown against the selection of the tournament host 90,000 spectators are expected and thus set another record at this event, to the success of which the delegation of the German Football Association (DFB), directed by national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, delivered the next community contribution on Wednesday: As a reward for their tireless commitment, with which the players also prevailed against the Equipe Tricolore, the Germans are close to their first triumph since the Olympic victory in 2016.
“To be honest, I can’t even put it into words. We played an amazing game again,” said Popp on ZDF. “We are so incredibly happy, no one was expecting us, and we are now facing 90,000 in the final against England – honestly, there is nothing better.” The team, “it’s great,” said Popp, after being Best Player of the Match award. With such “anticipation, such a desire for a final – there is nothing better”.
They knew from the start that they would have to deal with an unpredictable adversary that no effort could eliminate: the corona virus. Immediately before the semi-finals, it struck once again in the DFB camp. After goalscorer Alexandra Popp and after the start of the Euro, two regulars Lea Schüller were hit, Klara Bühl, the next offensive player, fell out before the neighborhood duel.
Even without the support of the 21-year-old from Munich, who remained isolated at the team hotel in London, the colleagues in Milton Keynes continued on their successful course, with Popp (40th and 76th minute) paving the way with their goals. Bühl’s absence, which the team-mates remembered before kick-off by holding their shirts up with their names, was compensated for by the national coach by bringing on Jule Brand from Wolfsburg. Otherwise, Voss-Tecklenburg made no changes to the starting lineup, which was also obvious in view of the consistently building results up to that point.
Popp takes the ball directly
At the beginning, the French only managed to shift the action to the German half with longer passages of ball possession. The full-backs Giulia Gwinn and Felicitas Rauch had their main task under control and repeatedly came forward over the center line. A first serious counterattack, initiated by Sara Däbritz, ended with Lina Magull because the French captain Wendie Renard intervened as the last resort (6th).
What was to be credited to the Germans early on: they shed their respect for the technically superior soloists and, by consistently shifting them, shifted the advances of the Les Bleus to the wings, where the danger of causing damage was smaller. They also caused a stir in the French penalty area when set pieces were played. Goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin dived around the post with a dive from Popp’s free kick (22′).
At the latest after this scene, in which their fans among the 27,400 visitors already had the cheers on their lips, the women in black and white were completely on top. They doubled the attackers, which was possible because Lena Oberdorf and Däbritz did a lot of running work in defensive midfield. And it got even better: Svenja Huth changed sides and crossed from the right in the direction of the penalty spot, where Popp took the ball directly and shot under the crossbar. It was the fifth goal in this European Championship for the Wolfsburg captain.
The German joy was short-lived. Before the break, the French struck back, surprisingly at this point: Kadidiatou Diani initiated the equalization with a long-range shot that first hit the post, then the back of Merle Frohms and from there behind the line (44′). .
The dynamics of the second half could not quite keep up with the first half. But because every mistake could mean the end, there was a tension about the game that always made it worth seeing. Kathrin Hendrich, who stopped a Selma Bacha shot in time (63′) and Frohms, who intercepted a Renard header (64′) and stood in Diani’s way (67′), prevented trouble when the Germans died temporarily lost control.
Voss-Tecklenburg reacted and brought in Linda Dallmann and Sydney Lohmann, a Bayern duo from the bank that should bring fresh energy. The idea caught fire. The team gained momentum and Popp made it 2-1 with a header (76th). They defended this lead in a hectic final phase with everything they could. That was enough for another coup, which finally allows them to fulfill their big dream at Wembley Stadium.
In the ZDF interview, the national coach spoke of great “pride” in her players. “It’s so deserved, we worked so hard for it. We’ve become such a bunch here that supports each other everywhere. I think we deservedly won this game.” There is now “singing and dancing” in the dressing room. Merle Frohms was also blown away. “The tears of joy came as soon as the final whistle sounded, it’s just an unbelievable feeling,” said the goalkeeper. The goal was “so irrelevant”.