In a phenomenal display of pressing, passing and Popp; Germany beat France 2-1 to make the Euro 2022 final.
Alexandra Popp scored both of Germany’s goals in a record-breaking display at Stadium MK to guide her nation beyond the dynamic and exciting French side and into the final at Wembley.
There Germany will face tournament hosts England who are riding high after their 4-0 demolition of Sweden in the other semi-final. It is a fitting final between the two best teams at Euro 2022, but it almost didn’t happen.
France came into the game against Germany determined to make their first European Championships final, and they put up one hell of a fight against the diligent German side. And in the end, they would have gotten that win but for one player:
Popp came into the semi-final having scored in each of her four matches at Euro 2022 so far, her first four ever European Championship matches as it turns out. She then made it five in a row with a rasping volley to give Germany a first-half lead.
This was a ridiculous goal from Alex Popp, stealing in at the back-post as the ball sailed over the head of the mighty Wendie Renard. Popp swung her left leg at it and thundered the ball into the roof of the net with a devastating volley.
That made Popp the first player to ever score in five consecutive Women’s Euros games. It also made her the second-ever player of any gender to score in five straight, after Michel Platini did it in 1984.
Alexandra Popp's game by numbers vs France:
100% shot accuracy
100% take-on success
13 passes completed
7 passes into the final third
3 shots on target
— Squawka (@Squawka) July 27, 2022
France got a giant slice of luck to equalise soon after, but Germany and Popp kept on going and sure enough, they found their winner and once again it was a cross from the right finished by Popp.
This time, Popp let Jule Brand occupy Wendie Renard’s attention and then made a late run to thunder a powerful header into the back of the net to return the lead to Germany. This was a stunning goal, and one that took her level with Beth Mead atop the golden boot standings.
“This is the intelligence of an experienced player,” said former England international Fara Williams after the game, “she knows if she’s standing next to Renard; she’s not winning that header. She’s pulled herself away, she’s given herself a bit of space. She’s waiting for the delivery, and timed her run to perfection, to get a run on Renard. That’s the only way you’re gonna beat Renard in the air.”
Germany have participated in each of the last 11 Women’s European Championships, did they reach the final?
◉ 1989: Yes
◉ 1991: Yes
◎ 1993: No
◉ 1995: Yes
◉ 1997: Yes
◉ 2001: Yes
◉ 2005: Yes
◉ 2009: Yes
◉ 2013: Yes
◎ 2017: No
◉ 2022: Yes
— Squawka (@Squawka) July 27, 2022
On Popp’s potential battle with England’s defensive colossus Millie Bright, Wiliams said: “it’s an exciting one.”
“She’s lifting this team,” added former France international Laura Georges. After injury had forced her to miss two previous Euros, and not even be a starter coming into this tournament, Popp of course fought her way back into the side.
Now, Alex Popp will lead her country out for a European Championship final at a packed Wembley Stadium. She will enter the final having scored in every single previous match at the tournament and going into a head-to-head match-up with her rival for the golden boot as well. For all the romance of England winning their first Euros, how about Alex Popp winning her first Euros by scoring in every single game along the way? Wouldn’t that, too, be the purest football romance?