The German footballers have made a goalless and disappointing start to the World Cup year. The harmless team of national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg came to a happy 0-0 draw against Sweden in Duisburg on Tuesday evening. In front of 20,169 spectators, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the 31-year-old captain Alexandra Popp from VfL Wolfsburg played her 125th international match 13 years after her debut in the DFB selection at the same place - but she did not score her 62nd goal.
"It's a strong sign," Voss-Tecklenburg said of the Scholz visit. After a meeting with the coach and DFB President Bernd Neuendorf immediately before kick-off, the chancellor announced that he would continue to work for equality in football. "I'll stay on the ball, if you can stay in the picture. I'll continue to do that," said the SPD politician on ZDF. Scholz had already argued vehemently at and after the European Championship last year for German national soccer players to receive the same bonuses.
On the way to the hoped-for third World Cup title after 2003 and 2007, Duisburg-born Voss-Tecklenburg and her squad still have a lot of work to do. At the first endurance test this year before the World Cup from July 20th to August 20th in Australia and New Zealand, Sweden showed themselves to be extremely robust opponents. On the other hand, the DFB women sometimes seemed a bit despondent. At the World Cup, Germany meets Morocco, Colombia and South Korea in Group H.
The German team had prepared for the duel against their long-term rivals in a short training camp in Marbella. Sweden is third in the Fifa world rankings behind the USA and Germany. Germany defeated Sweden in the 2016 Olympic final, but were eliminated by the Scandinavians in the 2019 World Cup quarter-finals.
With Sjoeke Nüsken in defensive midfield instead of the sick Lena Oberdorf from Wolfsburg, the Germans went against the EM semi-finalists of 2022. The Frankfurter acted nervously at first, like so many teammates. A return of Felicitas Rauch that was too short almost led to 0:1. Goalkeeper Merle Frohms reacted strongly against Stina Blackstenius. A shot off target by France professional Sara Däbritz was the hosts' first chance after just under half an hour. Jubilarian Popp also hardly got a chance at first.
The strong tackle Sweden team around Barcelona striker Fridolina Rölfo (formerly FC Bayern Munich and VfL Wolfsburg) put the DFB women under constant pressure. The German players didn't like the offensive pressing at all. After a shot by Kosovare Asllani, Frohms had to use all her flying skills.
Even after the break there were initially some misunderstandings in the German attack, then Popp and Co. came into play better. But the substitute offensive forces Lea Schüller, Laura Freigang and Jule Brand were no longer able to make a decisive move. And in the closing stages Frohms only saved against Blackstenius, shortly afterwards Rytting Kaneryd hit the post.