France vs. Germany
Tuesday, July 5th 2011, 20.45 CET
It was a delight watching this game! Although it did not end as I predicted here, it was the tournament’s highest-scoring game so far, and a great display of football from two of the best teams playing at this year’s Women’s World Cup! Although the two teams were already qualified before the game even started, they didn’t seemed relaxed at all, with the battle being fierce between the two rivals yesterday in Mochengladbach.
Before the game, the French had a clear advantage goalscoring-wise, and they just required a draw to grab Group A’s top position. So the pressure fell more on the Germans, adding the fact that they are, after all, the hosts of the tournament. Plus, after two single-goal victories, the Germans needed to please their fans with a more obvious display of attacking capabilities. They definitely managed to do that, scoring 4 goals against one of the best teams in the world, and keeping the spectators on their toes throughout the game.
From the early minutes of the game, the German girls took control of the game through a well-devised possession strategy, and tried several times to pass the ball through the tight French defense. It didn’t work, and they had to change tactic after about 10 minutes of play. They tried instead to focus on the flanks upfront and send crosses from there into the French penalty area. The first result was a header from Garefrekes after a free kick, which passed by the French goalie in midair and found the net. It was the 25th minute. Another similar header came 7 minutes later from Grinks, thanks to the great cross sent by Simone Laudehr. The two goals threw the French off and made them change tactic.
With the second half under way, Marie-Laurie Delie was sent in for the French side, and scored 11 minutes in the second half with a beautiful header following a French corner. Delie’s goal gave the French hope and made the girls go more into enemy territory. However, that left some empty spaces in the defense, and 12 minutes after the goal, the Germans took advantage of that. Fatmire Bajramaj’s run in the French penalty area was stopped by goalkeeper Sapowicz, and the ball was cleared by a defender at the last minute. That didn’t stop the referee to show Sapowicz the red card though, and to award the Germans a penalty. Celine Deville, France’s substitute keeper came in, but jumped in the wrong side at the penalty, bringing the score to 1-3.
It was a devastating situation for France: 2 goals behind with 22 minutes of play and only 10 girls strong. That didn’t stop them though, and they went on the attack with all they had. It paid off 4 minutes later, when Laura Georges heading another French corner into the German net. Hopes were high for the French when Delie’s close-range shot went just wide moments later.
The Germans kept attacking, and they were close to making the score 2-4 after Grings’ free kick which hit the side bar. On the rebound, Bajramaj’s shot was blocked on the line by a fully-stretched Camille Abily. The French couldn’t prevent the goal from happening though, and in the 89th minute, Okoyino da Mbabi cooly beat Abily from inside the box, after Peter and Garefrekes found her in a great position. It sent the German crowds wild, and kept them cheering until the end of the game moments later.
In the end, the German fans who came at Mochengladbach got what they came there for, and Germany proved to have the power to defeat even their strongest rivals. And so Group A comes to an end, with the Germans taking the first spot, leaving the 2nd place to the French. The Germans will go ahead and face Japan in the quarter-finals, while a spicy England-France quarter awaits us on Saturday!