Know your enemy: Where Germany are dangerous - and how they can be attacked

·4 min read
Know your enemy: Where Germany are dangerous – and how they can be attacked - GETTY IMAGES
Know your enemy: Where Germany are dangerous – and how they can be attacked - GETTY IMAGES

England Women will compete in their first major tournament final since 2009 when they face European powerhouses Germany in a blockbuster Euros final at Wembley on Sunday.

After three straight semi-final exits over the past decade, the Lionesses are up against eight-time winners Germany, the competition's most successful nation. Ahead of the final, Telegraph Sport breaks down the German team and explores how the country has reacted to facing old rivals England at the home of English football.

How do they set up and what tactics do they use?

After falling short at major tournaments in recent years, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's side flew under the radar coming into this tournament, dispatching the likes of Spain and France with their patient build-up play and aggressive press.

Martina Voss-Tecklenburg - Know your enemy: Where Germany are dangerous – and how they can be attacked - AP
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg - Know your enemy: Where Germany are dangerous – and how they can be attacked - AP

Their transformation is reflective of how the team has placed psychology front and centre of its programme. Former German striker Birgit Prinz, who is considered a women’s footballing legend in her country, has been working specifically with the team’s psychology ahead of the tournament.

“When I look at Germany, I feel like there’s 11 best friends on the pitch, no matter who plays,” says Jasmina Schweimler, a freelance sports journalist and German women’s football expert. “Before the tournament, the whole squad sat down and talked about their values and how they can support each other. This mental factor has played such a huge role and that’s where they’ve really picked up and improved. They really click on the pitch.”

Keep an eye out for Sara Däbritz, their attacking central midfielder who has orchestrated much of their play going forward. The team’s resilient centre-back pairing of Kathrin Hendrich and Marina Hegering has been a cornerstone of their robustness at the back, which has been breached just once this tournament.

Who is the player most likely to hurt England?

Alexandra Popp has earned all the plaudits for her precision in front of goal, but it is Lena Oberdorf who has been Germany’s breakout star. The 20-year-old defensive midfielder has made her presence felt all over the park and has played an instrumental role in Germany’s impressive transition game.

Lena Oberdorf - Know your enemy: Where Germany are dangerous – and how they can be attacked - GETTY IMAGES
Lena Oberdorf - Know your enemy: Where Germany are dangerous – and how they can be attacked - GETTY IMAGES

The youngster has struck up a great telepathy with her Lina Magull in the midfield and has the complete works. She has shown maturity beyond her years during the tournament and it will be intriguing to see how she measures up to England’s Keira Walsh. “She’s been playing with such confidence,” says former player Anja Mittag, who made 158 appearances for Germany and now coaches at third-tier German club RB Leipzig. “She’s so smart and aggressive and she wins almost every duel. Her work rate is crazy.”

Area where they are vulnerable?

Germany will need to be on their guard against England’s tenacious front three of Lauren Hemp, Ellen White and Fran Kirby in the likely event that the trio start. Alessia Russo, who has become England’s official ‘super-sub’ and is the complete box player, will also pose a major threat. While they have proved their defensive robustness, Germany do not possess the paciest back line and could be easily undermined by the likes of Lauren Hemp, whose direct running has been a key component of England’s free-flowing attack.

What's the view of England in Germany?

German media have respectfully taken note of England’s brilliant Euros campaign, but have not gone as far to label them underdogs for Sunday’s showdown.

But Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, who has already sent a good luck video message to the German team, has backed England to triumph. “It'll be a massive challenge for Germany,” he told reporters ahead of Liverpool's Community Shield game against Manchester City. “But I think the most important thing is the fact that women's football has shown it's a fantastic game. We all knew that before. Women's football over the last few years [has] exploded.”

Are the Euros making big news in Germany?

Germany has been roping in colossal TV audiences throughout the tournament – 12.9 million tuned into the team’s semi-final win over France. But there is controversy over the fact that men’s competitive football makes an untimely return this weekend. First-round fixtures in the DFB Pokal – the equivalent of Germany’s FA Cup – gets under way at exactly the same time as the Euros final.

After back-to-back quarter-final exits at major tournaments, Germans love the fact their country has reestablished itself as the traditional powerhouse it always has been in the women’s game. “Before this tournament, no one really knew where this German team stood,” adds Schweimler. “Because of past tournaments, where they haven’t played so well, no one knew what to expect. But that unknown quality is what this team is striving on.”