The news that was eagerly awaited this week was in a message on Tuesday: Alexandra Popp has survived her corona infection. The captain of the German national soccer team was able to get out of the week-long isolation after several negative tests and medical examinations. Just in time for the start of the second training camp in Herzogenaurach on the same day, and with enough time to fly to England on July 3rd for the European Championship.
Like the DFB men a few weeks earlier, the DFB women have taken up residence in the Franconian headquarters of the association’s outfitter for intensive preparation for the European Championship (July 6th to 31st). While national coach Hansi Flick had to combine preparation for Nations League games and also for the World Cup, which will only take place in Qatar in six months, national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg is fully focused on this one tournament after the quarter-finals -Disappointments at the EM 2017 and the World Cup 2019 should be a success again.
How well did your team come together? Everything works? What still needs to be improved? The only test international match this Friday (5 p.m., ZDF) against the EM participants Switzerland in Erfurt’s Steigerwald Stadium should provide answers – and strengthen self-confidence.
There is a deliberate decision to only have one international match before the European Championships in order to be able to train as much as possible
“We have an incredibly great intensity and great freshness, the team seems very agile and dynamic,” said Voss-Tecklenburg on Thursday. “It shows that we did the right things in preparation. Now it’s about having or getting everyone healthy. But I really see this freshness and a development of team spirit and team spirit.” This is exactly what the 54-year-old valued: getting the freshness in the squad that her footballers should have at the latest when they open against Denmark on July 8th, so that they can also defend themselves in the challenging group against Spain (July 12th) and Finland ( July 16) to enforce.
Since the first so-called pre-camp in Frankfurt at the beginning of June, further games against other nations have been deliberately avoided in order to be able to use as much and as intensively as possible time for joint units. The coaching staff had “given a lot of detailed thought” to how the preparations should be approached and “communicated a great deal and involved the players,” Voss-Tecklenburg said when announcing the provisional EM squad at the end of May. Three weeks later she found: “We took a few really important steps because we had a lot of training time, which we sometimes lacked. And we used it.”
During the dress rehearsal, Switzerland shouldn’t simulate the way the group opponents play, but rather be the indicator of how each individual has internalized the work of the past few weeks and how the team harmonizes. The preparation goes on until June 29th. “Security and clarity” Voss-Tecklenburg wants to pull out of the game against the team she coached for more than six years.
The fact that Dzsenifer Marozsan and Melanie Leupolz are missing also emphasizes the role of Alexandra Popp
It is not yet clear to what extent Alexandra Popp from double winner VfL Wolfsburg will contribute to security and clarity with her experience – but she is part of the squad. “The status is very good, it is on schedule, just as it can be on schedule after Corona,” said Voss-Tecklenburg. “There are no problems, it’s going in the right direction. And we still have a little time to get them where we want to be, so that it’s enough for 90 minutes.”
The final squad was appointed last Saturday. Maximiliane Rall (Bayern Munich), Sjoeke Nüsken (Eintracht Frankfurt), Jana Feldkamp and goalkeeper Martina Tufekovic (both TSG Hoffenheim) are no longer there. Offensive player Chantal Hagel (Hoffenheim) takes Voss-Tecklenburg to the second course to have security in case of possible failures. In the run-up to the final nomination, the trainer said, she felt a certain insecurity and pressure on her players: “Now there is some relaxation.”
The fact that the German team lacks a lot of skill and the routine from almost 200 international matches due to the cancellation of Dzsenifer Marozsan from Olympique Lyon (torn cruciate ligament) and the pregnant Melanie Leupolz from Chelsea in midfield also emphasizes the role of Popp. Voss-Tecklenburg emphasized how bad the moment of her captain’s corona infection was in terms of the fact that the offensive player had been thrown back in her individual planning: Popp had to be dispensed with in the past few months anyway. In April 2021, the 31-year-old injured her knee, was out for nine months and had to undergo another operation after her first game at the end of January because a cartilage fragment had come loose. She was only able to play for the DFB again in April 2022. Your failure at the EM would have been a bitter loss – and certainly not a booster for self-confidence.