Germany has reached the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, by defeating Nigeria 3-0 in Saturday’s Round of 16 match.
Only after all group games had finished on last Thursday evening, was it clear that the world champions of 2003 and 2007 would take on the reigning African Cup title holders in their first knockout game of the 2019 global tournament.
The reaction to that news in the German team camp as well in the country’s national media was mixed. On the one hand, there was respect of the opponent’s known physical style of play that makes Nigeria always a difficult side to play against. Conversely, there was also confidence in the team’s own ability to win.
Germany had won all three of its group stage games without conceding a goal, while hardly ever impressing with their play in the process. That trend would continue on Saturday.
The team had some difficulty finding its way into the match until roughly halfway into the first 45 minutes, when Alexandra Popp opened the scoring, and moments later, Sara Däbritz doubled the German lead from the penalty spot.
Nigeria seemed to have the better of the play in the second half, without every seriously threatening Almuth Schult’s goal however. Then toward the end, SGS Essen youngster Lea Schüller put the game beyond any doubt as she scored to provide the 3-0 final result.
There seems to be passionate debate among the fans and the experts in the press alike, about what to make of the World Cup performances of this team. While many see that they have not even come close to reaching their full potential, others point to the fact that they have now reached the quarterfinals and have still to concede a goal.
Personally, I see the lackluster play so far, but it is certainly not as bleak as the first group makes it out to be. Good teams always rise to the occasion toward the end of big tournaments, like the USA did four years ago.
I am certainly not suggesting that Germany will win this World Cup, as the Americans did in 2015, but who knows?
Martina Voss- Tecklenburg’s team plays in the quarterfinals against the winner of Canada vs. Sweden.