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Germany Women’s Team Closes Group Stage Play in Style

Germany closed out group play at the UEFA women’s EURO with a 3-0 victory over Finland on Saturday night. In doing so, they finished Group B, widely seen as the so-called “Group of Death” with three wins out of three and a goal differential of 9-0.
But having said that, anyone who knows anything about tournament play knows that it’s not about how you start a tournament, it’s about how you finish it that counts.
Sophia Kleinherne, Alexandra Popp and Nicole Anyomi scored the goals for the night, securing the victory, which in terms of the bigger picture of the tournament was essentially meaningless. The top spot in the group already belonged to Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s team after the victory against Spain earlier this past week. They already knew the identity of their quarterfinal opposition since Friday night, when Austria defeated Norway and earned their place in the last eight.

From the point of view of the coach, however, it was understandable to want to keep the team in the flow, rather than rest too many players. Nonetheless, all outfield players who had not made an appearance in the tournament to this point got some playing time on Saturday.
This was important in order to keep the team spirit high, going into the quarterfinals.
Despite the fact that Germany and Austria share a border, and that about half of the Austrian squad is made up of players who play in the German Flyeralarm Frauen Bundesliga, the two sides have never met in a competitive women’s international fixture before.

Even so, given the familiarity between the players at the club level, both teams will know exactly what to expect from the match. Of course, Germany will be the clear favourite to advance, but they know that they will underestimate the Austrians at their peril. Austria was the only team that gave England a scare so far in this tournament. They are extremely compact at the back, and they work themselves forward from there.
At the last women’s EURO in 2017, they made their debut at a major tournament and surprised everyone by making the semifinals. This is not a team to take lightly at all as the Germans well know. After a nearly flawless group stage, there is always a danger of a letdown in the knockout phase. But such a letdown would cause all this prior work to be undone. From now on, it’s win or go home.

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