In a tight and tense game, Germany beat Spain 1-0 at the Women’s World Cup.
The only goal came late in the first-half from a goalkeeping error. Who were the winners and losers?
Winner: Martina Voss-Tecklenburg
Germany’s new coach was only appointed this year, after qualification for the World Cup had already been completed. She inherited a talented Germany side, but one whose best player Dzsenifer Marozsan struggled in her opening game and ended up breaking her toe in the match. As a result she watched the second game from the stands.
So, again, Germany didn’t really play well. They were underwhelming against China in their opener and although Spain present a sterner test they once again failed to really shine. Sure they created a few chances at the end when Spain were throwing everyone forward, but for most of the game they were on the back foot.
Yet Germany sit top of the group: two games, two wins, two clean sheets. Not scintillating form, but then you don’t want to peak in the group stages do you? What you want is some functional wins that allow you to build momentum as the tournament builds, and that’s just what Germany have. Things are looking up for Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.
Loser: Marta Torrejón
Sometimes we take the simple things for granted. The regular, basic things that players do so often that they look effortless and second nature. To the extent where if they don’t do them, we are left flabbergasted. Just as we were in the in the 42nd minute in Valenciennes when Germany took the lead.
Sara Däbritz's 42nd minute goal is enough to give Germany the three points. pic.twitter.com/1NMjhO415E
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) June 12, 2019
It’s not just that Sara Dabritz scored, that can happen. It’s not just that Sara Dabritz scored from a rebound, that can happen. It’s not just that Sara Dabritz scored from a rebound after some sloppy defending from Marta Torrejón, that too can happen.
What cannot happen, or cannot be allowed to happen, is for Sandra Paños to make an excellent save and the ball to rebound into Marta Torrejón’s path, literally she just had to run up to the ball and hoik it away for a throw or a corner, but instead, Marta Torrejón, 86 caps for Spain, 168 league games for Barcelona, stood stock still and then leisurely cantered up to the ball. She looked like she was running in molasses, and this allowed Dabritz to get the drop on her and stab home Germany’s opening goal.
You’ll never take a defender racing to clear the ball for granted again.
Winner: The goalkeepers
It’s perhaps not a surprise that in such a tight, defensive clash; the goalkeepers stood out. But Almuth Schult and Sandra Paños were both exceptionally good. Schult stepped up in the first-half when Spain were looking at their most dangerous. This was her second clean sheet of the tournament and although she had little to do in the second half she commanded her box well.
Meanwhile Paños routinely made light work of whatever Germany could throw at her. In the second half in particular Die Nationalelf really came on strong as Spain threw bodies forward to try and dget am equaliser. Yet not only did Paños save the shots but she made the saves look easy. Her positioning was on point and the fact is even the goal she conceded was a defensive error from a team-mate after Paños herself had made a superb save, the best in the match in fact.
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Loser: Jenni Hermoso
Jenni Hermoso has had a curious tournament so far. Spain’s no. 10 has been an excellent creative pivot for Spain, a supreme target-woman who allowed her team-mates to play off her. Yet as a goal threat she was comically non-existent. Yes, she has scored two goals, but both of those were penalties and her excellence from the spot was at odds with the rest of her display.
Against Germany, Hermoso was once again a non-factor. It’s baffling how a player with such talent can seem so constantly out of sync with her team-mates. At times it’s like she’s playing a different game at a different tempo to all her team-mates. She offered nowhere near enough goal threat for Spain and she is going to need to do a whole lot more against China in the final group game.
Winner: China and South Africa
Before they’ve even played a game, South Africa and (especially) China have won big time. Had this game ended in a draw as the balance of play really indicated it should have done, then only a win for one of them would give them a chance to qualify automatically on matchday three. As it turns out, Spain getting beaten means that one of these sides could move up to second place even before matchday three.
Spain sit on three points, and with China and South Africa on zero, a win puts them level with the Spanish. And on the last matchday China will play Spain, so in essence the Chinese know that two wins from their next two games will put them into the knockout rounds automatically. Even South Africa know that if they beat China they put themselves into position to maybe grab a best third place spot (assuming they, too, will lose to Germany).
With Barcelona making the Champions League final, there was plenty of hype around this Spanish side ahead of the World Cup. Many had hoped that this would be the tournament where they really impress and establish themselves as a global superpower.
Germany's record against Spain:
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 12, 2019
And sure, they’ve dominated both games they’ve played. They’ve controlled possession and the tempo, moving the ball around well. But they’ve had such an astounding lack of cutting edge in both games.
Two penalties warped perceptions of how potent they were against South Africa, and Germany handled them with such an absurd level of ease that you have to genuinely worry about their future vs. China.