The preview here has a more detailed description of the situation. In short, Germany had a rather poor start to these European Championships despite 7 points from the 3 group games. We saw a decline of all top three national teams over the last years and especially Germany isn’t the team of old who just need to push an afterburner button to add a few percent of additional performance level to their game. It was already max power in the group stage for the way this German team was set up.
But Denmark had been worse so far. They played their best match arguably in the 0:1 defeat against the Dutch. And were rather lucky to have got two wins somehow without being the better team against any opponent in any match so far to end their group second.
Headline: A historic deed
You could nearly hear all those sighs of relief all over Europe’s women’s football fields after the final whistle . The deed was finally done. The rest of Europe would no longer suffer under the might of the German stronghold. The reign that after 22 years has felt like a iron an nearly eternal dictatorship was ended.
Denmark might also have ended a record for the ages. But wasn’t it overdue? Despite Germany had been defeated also already in the quarters of the WC 2011 by Japan it felt like the rest was only allowed to play for the three remaining places in the semis and one place in the final so far.
And the same Denmark that last defeated Germany in the European competition some 22 years or so ago and ousted France four years ago in the quarter finals did it again. But even if this upset now was even more unexpected it was a totally different game this time around that saw the better team with the majority of good chances win.
What happened on the pitch
For the first time in this tournament Denmark had been the better team. But they needed a lot of time until they started to believe this. Especially after they gifted away the early German lead so poorly. That was exactly what Germany waited for and how they had won their games they won so far.
And so the German team did the same like in the previous matches. Controlled most of the ball possession in midfield because the stronger athleticism of the individuals allowed them to chase their opponents down before they could establish decent spells of combination play or creating dangerous situations. An early opportunity for Pernille Harder. But then Denmark had not much to show in the opposite half if they were able to reach it at all.
But Germany couldn’t create a lot as well. It was pretty much the same picture again like in most of the group stage matches. And again you could see the positive development of the “smaller” nations and their players to get closer and closer to the top level. But the top level has stopped development at the moment already or are indeed managing to go back and get worse.
So long range shots had been the most kind of dangerous situations Germany had. But Denmark still played fearful. Sometimes not stringing enough passes together to get in the German half but insisting to want to play their way out of their own half. And when Katrine Veje for example got into a useful situation on the wing to take on her defender 1-on-1 she passed the ball on instead where one of her teammates stood against 3 opponents.
But even with a lot happening this way all of a sudden Denmark created the biggest chance of the half. But Veje – unlike the match against Norway where she converted a similar chance convincingly – missed poorly from a rather free shot position not far from the penalty spot. But it seemed Denmark got their believe back suddenly. A corner missed by goalie Almut Schult could also have been the equalizer – but missed the far post just inches wide without anybody touching it.
A decent first sign of what should follow later in the game but yet no alarm mode bells ringing for Germany because it looked all so familiar to them.
But in the second half they should heavily switch their modes. From sleepy to full panic within a few minutes. First they produced a quite funny looking reminder that it was about time to take a nap – usually. Two players stopping play completely waiting for a whistle who wouldn’t have even be legitimate. Rare this in pro football. But Denmark played like pros and continued to make the best use of it. Finally Nadim used the German napping mode for a header from short distance into the net. She who had been mostly made her presence feel so far by being crowned offside queen of the tournament was not only alive but set on fire. Maybe she remembered the nice exchange of tweets with Nadine Angerer, German hero of the EC 2013 and goalie coach at her club Portland Thorns. And Germany played the worst quarter of an hour of any team of the tournament. No player stood up against the overwhelming Danes – and no management. There was a potential penalty and the red card not whistled. There were chance after chance. Veje missed the goal from less than a meter and hit the crossbar instead. Usually the underdog can’t win a match when they miss that sort of opportunities.
Danish fans were wiping their screens because there must have been a fault with the dress color surely. But sorry fans – it wasn’t that Denmark played like extra-terrestrials. Germany just head a complete meltdown – and Denmark were unable to make the most of it this time.
And when Germany’s Linda Dallmann created two big chances for Germany you saw the momentum swing back and thought Germany would take back control again. But that was only a short spell where Denmark needed to take a deep breath. Because Germany remained totally out of sorts and structure. Not covering any spaces in midfield properly anymore neither with nor without the ball. And in contrary to Germany Denmarks substitutions and changes helped the team!
How often did we wait for that to happen in this tournament?
Perfect play and cross from sub Frederikke Thogersen (who however should in no way be a sub) once again. And perfect header from Theresa Nielsen who of all people (starting the match as right wing back) appeared in the opposite box at the right point at the right time. And now finally the Danes had found a way to make the Germans pay for missing out on German organisation completely.
AGAINST GERMANY !
– victory – the deed was done – and history was made.
Congratulations to the Danish team from us also. It might be a day to remember for all of your life. And not only the Danish fans will remember this day for a long time and many many years to come.
Interestingly from a tactical point of view that game ended looking more like the wild west than central European women’s football. To describe Germany’s tactics adequately would even more than under former coach Neid need at least half a book about fantasy and improvisation and other things. Even Denmark – well known for tactical discipline in football – stretched the usual dimensions. But this was kind of okay offensively because it was made to give Pernille Harder the freedom of movement to push the attacks from her team forward as much as possible – and defensively because they got lucky with it once more.
It looked like Denmark tried to play Harder a little smarter to save some more energy than in previous matches by not working too hard attacking the German back line when they were in possession of the ball. But maybe she just gets more tired because there were a lot of things going on rather randomly.
Like the organisation of the wings of the Danish defense. But that had been pretty similar to previous matches. It often looked as if interestingly they were kind of left rather free for their opponents to enter. And Denmark instead focus on building a mass barrier in the center having a lot of bodies between the penalty spot and the 6-yard box. Sometimes so overcrowded they stood each other in the way and were unable to clear the ball out of danger. But somehow they got lucky with it again when deflected shots missed by inches or Germany were not able to pass the lots of bodies in their way. Still Germany got a lot of big chances because of it though.
Germany since ages don’t play well regarding tactical structure but always relied on the players knowing what to do from the club teams. That sometimes led to interesting tactical configurations and interpretations from players, coaching staff and public. Sometimes it was interesting to see the differences between what the management meant to be playing and what was going on in the real world. Especially when players were on the pitch who were not very talented to find the optimal positions on the field in different constellations.
You sometimes even wonder to what degree some coaches have ever realized there are tactically clever and tactically less clever players in their roster.
The second half of Germany was an even better example of doing so many things wrong in positional play you probably wont be able to see often on any football pitch. Certainly hardly ever in hobby matches for example because hobbyists are tactically quite good in team organisation.
Especially after the substitution from Kristin Demann there seemed to be just nobody anymore who felt the need to play in the center of the field of Germany. See such gaps in a hobbyist match and the players will solve the problem on their own within very very few minutes. Good ones within 60 seconds or after the first time a problem arises.
It is also interesting that you don’t even want to know the reason. Either it was poor communication and the players got no information. Or the management just didn’t realize. Or one or more players got the order but didn’t what was expected. Nothing of that should have happened and if so nothing should have gone without correction within minutes. But you fully assume any of the above is possible in the team that had been Europe’s best for many many years so far.
As it is interesting let us nevertheless speculate a player got the order. Because this might point the way to another problem that is widely unknown. Player with poor tactical talent often go totally under the radar of the management when the team around her is compact enough to swallow the gaps she is producing. And it needs a match like this for some to realize. Not sure if all have even now.
But it was fascinating to watch from that point of view. Probably not so much for spectators who had come to see a good football performance though.
Summary and Resume
Denmark will be interesting to watch against Austria now because we will see how much such a success can boost a team. And a boost will be needed because this was again not as good a showing than some might assume because of the positive result against Germany. It was a little bit better than Italy at least. But that performance level will probably not be enough for the Austrians. Bar the boost to expect. But for these two also a lot depends now on regeneration and recharging their batteries. Austria has used up a lot. But so did Pernille Harder.
Germany on the other side are out and that will be a similar shock to them as the out in 2011 against Japan. However it will be very different on the long run. Whilst 2011 there were still only a few top teams and Japan went on to be one of them Germany remained a super power in women’s football. That might be much more in doubt now that a lot of teams are up and coming. And we wouldnt be suprised to see Germany going out of the top 3 of the FIFA ranking soon (they have been never worse than 2nd). They should find a way to improve from that low level of play but even then they might have to fight to stay with teams like the USA, Canada, England, France and maybe Spain.
At least some good saves after the goal
Solid defensive work and a top header.
Boye Sorensen: 6.5
Made the Danish center safe again
Also a reliable center back role
Useful part of the defensive block.
Also a solid part of the block
Helped make Denmark safe again
Helped also make Denmark safe again
Not her game and not her day this time.
Covered a lot of ground and initiated a lot
Suddenly a good game. Just when Denmark needed it
Only one major fault. But nothing special to show either
Mostly solid in defense but nothing up front.
Just a tiny bit missing to a top international center back
Rusty as expected after the long break
ok in defense
Best midfielder kept the midfield together – subbed out
Can do better. No effect offensively. No part in defense
Good work rate means over average in her team
Again not her day and not enough for this team
A used day in a used tournament
At least the most dangerous – subbed out