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2-0 against Austria: Germany is in the semi-finals of the European Championship

When it seemed like there would be no more goals in this intense quarter-final, despite so many attempts, it did. 90 minutes had passed. Austria’s goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger wanted to hit the ball away – and shot straight at the rushing Alexandra Popp, from whom the ball bounced over the line to make it 2-0. For the captain it was the fourth goal in her fourth European Championship game at this tournament in England. For the German national team it meant entry into the semi-finals.

“All in all, it was a great game and we’re happy that we won 2-0 today,” said national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg. Popp judged: “Even if it was extremely intense, we deserve it.” Goalscorer Lina Magull said: “We are infinitely happy and proud to have finally reached a semi-final again.” Most recently, the DFB selection was in the top four at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Before kick-off, the former national player Uwe Seeler, who died on Thursday, was commemorated with a minute’s silence. The Germans played with black ribbons. The match, in front of 16,025 spectators at Brentford’s Community Stadium, then got off to the intense pace that was expected. The DFB women approached the goal for the first time in the eighth minute, a minute later Julia Hickelsberger-Füller tested Merle Frohms on the other side before, as a direct reaction, Alexandra Popp’s first good chance went well over the bar. The Austrians kept the Germans under constant pressure and if Marina Georgieva’s header hadn’t hit the left post, they would have been rewarded with the lead in the 13th minute. The Germans seemed nervous, they made a few bad passes and lost possession – and the fact that the opponents constantly got in their way and thus prevented the build-up of the game didn’t help either.

Just one of a total of three aluminum hits by the Austrians. Merle Fohms in the German goal no longer gets the ball.

(Foto: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

In 2017, the Austrians made it to the semi-finals of the European Championship and were particularly notable for their well-organized defense. You can still see that five years later, before the quarter-finals they had only conceded two goals in eight European Championship games and also showed themselves to be more variable on the offensive in England. But in the 25th minute the defense was overcome. Marina Hegering passed the ball from the middle with her head to Klara Bühl, who ran away to the left of ÖFB captain Carina Wenninger. Then the 21-year-old fitted cleverly into the penalty area, Popp let the ball through to Lina Magull, who shot it sharply into the lower right corner to make it 1-0. A lucky lead against well organized and aggressive neighbors. After half an hour the rain started, Bühl changed position with Popp and stormed at the front, Huth continued to make a stir on the right – and speculated in the 42nd minute after a solo run on the near corner. In the way was the shin of Zinsberger.

Irrespective of the result, it was a special encounter: a meeting among acquaintances. Of the Austrian squad, 13 are under contract with Bundesliga clubs, and if you include former players, there are even 20. At some point, everyone probably faced each other in everyday football, which was seen as an advantage and a disadvantage for both sides. You knew so much more about your opponents – but they also knew about you. Voss-Tecklenburg returned to the same starting formation as last week against Spain. The recently suspended Felicitas Rauch and Lena Oberdorf and the recently injured Lina Magull started. And Lea Schüller initially sat on the bench after her corona isolation. Only reserve goalkeeper Almuth Schult was unable to take part due to a fever and stayed at the hotel. Her jersey was still there: team psychologist Birgit Prinz wore it over a training jacket. In front of Frohms in defense were Rauch, Kathrin Hendrich, Marina Hegering and Giulia Gwinn, in front of them Magull, Oberdorf and Sara Däbritz, the attacking line formed Klara Bühl, captain Alexandra Popp and Svenja Huth.

2-0 against Austria: The 1-0.  Alexandra Popp (front) cleverly lets Klara Bühl through - Lina Magull sinks precisely in the long corner.

The 1:0. Alexandra Popp (front) cleverly lets Klara Bühl through – Lina Magull sinks precisely in the long corner.

(Photo: PETER CZIBORRA/REUTERS)

21 seconds after the restart, Bühl almost became the assist provider again. But Gwinn narrowly missed the 2-0, her shot thundered against the left outer post. This time the DFB women started more calmly, with more order and often came into the penalty area in the first five minutes of the second half – shortly afterwards their heart rate increased three times. First after a quick counterattack, in which Frohms stormed out and got the ball faster than Hickelsberger-Füller, then when Barbara Dunst shot from about 20 meters and hit the crossbar, both in the 52nd minute. Five minutes later, the left post helped, which Sarah Puntigam caught at the end. “We are prepared for a lot to come,” Popp said. “They will definitely run until they drop and will probably throw in everything they have. They also made it to the semi-finals at the last European Championship, it doesn’t just happen.”

The game didn’t lose any of its intensity in the minutes that followed. Bühl and Oberdorf in particular were the driving forces, in the 78th minute a combination of the two almost brought the next goal, but Bühl’s shot hit the crossbar. Again in the 82nd minute: Substitute Lena Lattwein conquered the ball, which came to Bühl via Popp – who shot past the left from a completely free position shortly before being substituted. But a few minutes later nobody thought about that anymore.

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