Last day 3 of the SheBelieves Cup and England still with a chance to win the whole thing after a surprise victory against team USA and the initial unlucky loss in overtime against France. Germany had only got 1 point so far from their 0:0 draw with France after the 0:1 against USA. Still bidding to find their first goal. But they had at least created some good chances against France. The final chance also for the coaches here to check who was able to deal with the circumstances and the amount of games in the short time. Especially those not in competition since months should be expected to suffer now from 3 matches in 6 days.
The great Italian coach Giuseppe Trappatoni is very famous amongst German football fans from his time as Bayern Munich coach. Once again under heavy critics from the press because they missed the expected success the usually ever so cool signiore lost his cool and started to defend himself furiously with Italian temperament and using his nicely broken semi-german language. Stating it is not always him to blame when “players played like bottle empty”. And this match reminded you of players whos energy level seemed to be very empty. Even those who hadnt played 3 games in 6 days seemed to be looking forward to the end of this trip. Some seemed so reluctant to show any activities you felt every step would hurt. Surely there were some exceptions but that made the differences even more obvious.
The high intensity has kind of become standard in this tournament. We wrote after day 2. That was no longer the case. Both seemed to need their full focus on stringing a few passes together even without the constant pressure applied from the opponents like in the first matches. A rather ridiculous quality of the surface provided additional problems to control the ball properly. The first days there were compact midfields which made it difficult for the opponents to find a way through to get even close to the box. That turned into an open space midfield here at times. Symptomatically a run of Dzenifer Maroszan. England had a throw in about 20mtrs away from the German corner flag. Maroszan intercepted and could run unchallenged across an open midfield that looked more like the most lonesome areas of Montana. The only try to stop her was when Fara Williams desperately attacked her in a rather strange looking tackle at the center line. The tackle not only completely missed to stop the run but also missed to at least play foul and hit Maroszans legs from behind to bring her down. Until on the other side of the field Houghton and Bronze facing her in the back line couldnt quite make up their minds how to position themselves and thus Maroszan could run on until she had a good shooting opportunity from the edge of the box (after 70mtrs).
At least there were also some good moments as well. In the first half Magull had a very fine shot from distance hitting the cross bar. And a minute later England had its best opportunity after a good attack over the right flank from where Duggan was launched inside the box into a 1vs1 situation against Blaesse. Duggan made a fine first touch to have a free shot from about the penalty spot. Only to send it into the arms of Benkart. But how far did Blaesse run into the wrong direction without any reason? Another one of a huge amount of strange situations. It looked though as if it was a clever move because Duggan was probably prepared to have a difficult duel to fight and seemed confused by the fact she suddenly got so much time and space for her shot.
But then Germany took the lead. And it was well crafted by a good run, a good pass, and a good finish. However it needed also an amount of English players watching close and moving too slow to prevent it. Especially Houghton looked a little bit tired this time.
After halftime England started with a purpose. Jordan Nobbs well taken shot flew by just on the wrong side of the post. And you also saw some of the forechecking England did so well earlier in the tournament. But it seemed to be coach Sampson from the sideline who was the most engaged person screaming like crazy to get his players moving. It helped though to get the tired some fresh energy injected. England at least got better during the second half. But still for great spells the course of the ball looked more like in a pinball machine like on a football pitch. Except when a long clearance into nowhere-land needed a few seconds to be gathered up by the defenders.
And so there was also no late chance for an equaliser and unlike the first matches which were hard fought and had some decisive turns in the dying minutes the match ended with a match: It was more of an anti-climax and Germany could finally go ahead of England who had still chances to win the tournament at the beginning of the game but looked now to finish fourth (ed: held on to 3rd).
England used the same tactical formation twice. What hasnt been often the case in the recent past. Remember so far they often tried to adapt themselves according to the strength of their opponents. The confidence seems growing after the victory against the USA. They changed only 2 players and had the exactly same back line of Bronze – Houghton – Bassett – Stokes. And Williams the holding midfielder. And Nobbs right, Moore on the left replaced Christiansen, and Carney top of the midfield. Taylor and Duggan up front. And we had another confirmation that each tactical line up can only be as good as the players are fresh enough to use it properly.
Germany pretty much changed close to nothing ever since Jones is manager. But surprisingly they went with the same core like in their weaker first game against the USA and benched 9 players again who started against France. Same back line as against USA: Blaesse – Henning – Peter – Kerschowski. Midfield 4: Maier – Maroszan – Magull – Daebritz. And Popp and Mittag up front. Tactically there wasnt too much exciting going on during the 90 minutes apart from the huge gaps that have been left open and should certainly give the coaches lots of things to think over in more detail.
Resume and Prospect
The interesting aspect of this game was that there was not much interesting in it. It was like a test under irregular circumstances. And thus the results are pretty much worthless? Partially.
England finished second from bottom in the tournament and that might be very helpful to stay grounded. They can take the victory against the USA as additional motivation but have learned to get through even a smaller 3 match tournament it is not enough to have one good day against a top team and another good half.
Maybe they learned how it looks when some players are tired and that they might use their energy carefully during the European Championships. Ellen White coming in with full batteries could injected a visibly higher level of energy to their attacking play. Jodi Taylor should also have played with full energy. But she had probably more problems with match fitness having been out of competition for yet much longer than the rest due to her injuries last year. Dont know whether her matches here did her or the team too much favour but we will see.
And still we hope somehow they figure out the wisdom of the old football gurus. Parris was the forward who looked the better against the USA because she is a runner who is happy with a game where you need speed as a main asset because you do a lot of running and sprint duels when the spaces you operate are large. Sometimes you play a deep sitting opponent and thus have not much space for running. Then having a good touch and close control of the ball is increasingly important. Players like Toni Duggan are your choice.
Another ancient football wisdom says that sometimes a team grows with their opponent. This game probably did confirm the expectation that both are stronger when they adapt to stronger opponents like France and the USA and try to match their level. Creating something on their own hasnt been their focus lately that much and this probably added to the difficulties of the day. We will see how much that will effect both teams during the Euros. Quite a lot of opponents could be good enough to make good use out of that. Thats the danger.
Germany interestingly managed to get second place again in the tournament. And after second place last year and especially the Olympics the womens national team fully in line to confirm the German stereotype again got the best out of what didnt look to be too much. But will that still be the case when they try to defend their European title for a seventh time? A huge task as it stands. Because unlike former times when German teams had exceptional players who just didnt always perform their best but kept reserves for when they were needed this team here was absolutely at the edge already against the USA and England. However if they would realise the 9 different starters against France was more the way to go they might be on a good way. Not sure though. We will see.
Interesting also when we thought about the player ratings. A difficult task. Certainly you could argue the defenders did a good job at least at keeping their opponents at bay and defending their areas. But what was that worth when they faced no real test to do so? But that again you wouldnt want to rate them down because they werent to blame for that.
Poor thing had absolutely nothing to do when she got the start.
Not much to do defensively. But also not much up front
Solid performance but how difficult was that?
Also solid like Henning
More engaged in offensive play.
At least the most running midfielder in white.
Every now and then
Most Invisible player
Still not herself but tried to be.
A fine goal helped a lot.
The usual fight device.
Not enough to do.
Better in the second half.
Also not as fresh as usual.
Solid game as well.
Not her day. Got beaten far too easy.
Still full of running
No chance to make a big impact
Also energy level still ok
Also very tired.
You saw the long break since over(?) a year
Every comment is very much appreciated !