Germany became the first quarter-finalist of this summer’s Women’s World Cup after inflicting a 3-0 round of 16 win over Nigeria.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s team subsequently maintained their perfect start to France 2019 whilst Nigeria couldn’t follow their class of 1999 by reaching the final eight.
The game, riddled with VAR calls, was decided in a seven minute spell that saw captain Alexandra Popp, Sara Däbritz bag their first and third goals of these championships before Lea Schüller, with eight minutes remaining, breaking her tournament duck and sealing the win if it ever was in doubt. Awaiting them now in the quarters will be either Sweden or Canada.
Before then, here are five things we learned from this performance.
1. Special moment for Popp
Alexandra Popp has been an ever-present in the German set-up across the last decade. A ruthless forward she’s helped club side VfL Wolfsburg win back-to-back UEFA Women’s Champions League titles as well as Olympic gold in 2016. Now the leader of the pack she holds the key to any potential German success this summer. So, it wasn’t any surprise to see her putting Die Nationalelf ahead with a tidy header on the 20th-minute mark, no better way to mark the occasion of her 100th international cap.
2. QF streak continues
Germany are powerhouses of the women’s game. Since the Women’s World Cup was inaugurated in 1991 they’ve gone on to win two championships (2003 and 2007) and finish runners-up once (1995). Consistency has been their success: Germany have reached at least the quarter-finals in the seven preceding tournaments and with such lofty expectations against them Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s team have made it eight on the bounce.
3. Däbritz alongside Prinz
The name Birgit Prinz conjures powerful emotions when it comes to women’s football in Germany and for incredible reasons. She’s a three-time World Player of the Year and her country’s record appearance holder and scorer. En route to a first WWC title in 2003, she bagged a goal in five consecutive games, a feat that grew substantially of being equalled this summer after Sara Däbritz’s converted penalty minutes after Popp headed them in front. This was a third straight game the newly-signed Paris Saint-Germain midfielder got on the scoresheet and there’s no betting against her continuing this run in the quarter-finals.
4. Keeping the zero (again)
Efficiency and pragmatism are two stereotypes that follow German football whether it’s fair or not. From what they’ve displayed in France it’s going to take a special team to breach their defence. A fourth straight game not conceding means they sit alongside United States (albeit playing a game less) as the only nations yet to ship a goal in. A positive sign going forward if we take heed of that old adage of defence winning championships.
5. Super Falcons miss suspended pair
Nigeria, to be clear, were the big underdogs here. Progression by Thomas Dennerby’s side at Germany’s expense – thus matching their 1999 efforts of reaching the WWC quarter-finals – would have gone down as one of the greatest upsets in tournament history. Chances were low before kick-off, even so, they really missed suspended pair defender Ngozi Ebere and influential midfielder Rita Chikwelu who against France won more duels (10) and interceptions (6) than any player on the field.