Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s Germany side have at times slipped under the radar in the build-up to this tournament. A poor performance in the Arnold Clark Cup earlier this year – with the context of a heavily depleted squad – and a far from outstanding World Cup qualifying campaign have left fans and pundits alike wondering which team will show up.
Denmark, captained by the talismanic Pernille Harder, are also a bit of an unknown. A young squad, they have plenty of potential but are maybe not at the phase in their development to really challenge on the big stage. Harder herself carries a lot of the nation’s hopes but at times can look stranded in the forward line.
Both sides walked out at the intimate Brentford Community Stadium to vociferous support. Both have brought a legion of fans to England who made sure to make themselves heard early on. It was Germany who looked to stamp their mark early on in the game, racing out of the blocks from the first whistle. One thing is for sure, you can never count out them out. They are a different breed and seemingly become even more dangerous when people are not talking about them.
Within 10 minutes, they had rattled the woodwork for the first time. Marauding forward in attack, Felicitas Rauch found space 25 yards out to go for the spectacular. Her effort clipped the underside of the crossbar with Sara Däbritz somehow turning the rebound wide. They were to be denied by the upright again, twice in one move, as Rauch struck it once more before Lea Schüller’s follow-up ricocheted off the post.
For many teams, hitting the woodwork so many times would have seen the doubt start to creep in. Not Germany, however, who just kept bludgeoning the Denmark defence. The breakthrough seemed inevitable and it came through the impressive Lina Magull who dominated in the midfield area. Having had a wayward effort minutes earlier, she made no mistake this time as she turned clinical inside the box in the 21st minute.
Germany continued to pepper the Danish goal, kept out solely by the outstanding performance of Lene Christensen between the sticks. Cat-like throughout, she came up with a stunning stop to deny Schüller and ensure her side went into the break only 1-0 down.
Half-time only seemed to galvanise Germany and Denmark were living on the edge at the start of the second. Even a raft of attacking substitutions, including the likes of Nadia Nadim, did little to stem the tide. It wasn’t long until the lead was doubled when Christensen tipped Magull’s effort wide. Schüller popped up at the subsequent corner to turn it home.
As the sun set over Brentford, Germany were in the mood for more. Svenja Huth was denied a goal by the assistant’s flag before the scoreline was extended in the 78th minute. Lena Lattwein made the impact off the bench with a fine finish from inside the box. With the win wrapped up, there was still time for more as the game drew to a close. Alexandra Popp, on as a substitute, finally got her first goal in a major championships as she headed home from inside the box. The German forward sank to her knees in celebration, an expression of relief at finally making her name on the big stage.
A comfortable win for Germany sees them brimming with confidence ahead of a tricky match up with Spain in Group B. Denmark, on the other hand, will have to regroup quickly. Victory against Finland is now vital for their chances of progressing in the competition.