June 15, 2011

Group A Preview: Germany

Germany (#2)
Region: UEFA
Coach: Sylvia Nied
How They Qualified: Host Country
Prior Cups:
2007: Champions
2003: Champions
1999: Lost in Quarterfinals
1995: 2nd Place
1991: 4th Place

Returnees from 2007 WWC: (13) Angerer, Bartusiak, Peter, Krahn, Bresonik, Behringer, Prinz, Holl, Laudehr, Muller, Hingst, Garefrekes, Bajramaj.

Roster (Average Age: 26.46)

Nadine AngererGKFFC Frankfurt3297/0
Ursula HollGKFCR 2001 Duisburg295/0
Almuth SchultGKMagdeburger FFC200/0
Saskia BartusiakDFFFC Frankfurt2840/0
Linda BresonikDFFCR 2001 Duisburg2764/5
Verena FaisstDFVfL Wolfsburg223/0
Lena GoesslingDFSC 07 Bad Neuenahr2522/0
Annike KrahnDFFCR 2001 Duisburg2565/4
Babett PeterDFFFC Turbine Potsdam2350/1
Bianca SchmidtDFFFC Turbine Potsdam2115/0
Fatmire BajramajMFFFC Turbine Potsdam2346/8
Melanie BehringerMFFFC Frankfurt2564/17
Kerstin GarefrekesMFFFC Frankfurt31125/41
Ariane HingstMFFFC Frankfurt31172/10
Kim KuligMFHamburger SV2123/6
Simone LaudehrMFFCR 2001 Duisburg2440/8
Celia Okoyino da MbabiMFSC 07 Bad Neuenahr2254/10
Inka GringsFWFCR 2001 Duisburg3289/62
Martina MullerFWVfL Wolfsburg3192/30
Alexandra PoppFWFCR 2001 Duisburg2011/7
Birgit PrinzFWFFC Frankfurt33211/128

Recent Matches:

6/16/11NorwayFriendlyW 3-0
6/7/11HollandFriendlyW 5-0
6/3/11ItalyFriendlyW 5-0
5/21/11Korea DPRFriendlyW 2-0
11/25/10NigeriaFriendlyW 8-0
10/28/10AustraliaFriendlyW 2-1
9/15/10CanadaFriendlyW 5-0
5/22/10USAFriendlyL 0-4
3/3/10USAAlgarveL 2-3
3/1/10ChinaAlgarveW 5-0
2/26/10FinlandAlgarveW 7-0
2/24/10DenmarkAlgarveW 4-0
2/17/10Korea DPRFriendlyW 3-0

When the World Cup convenes in 10 days, Germany will be the favorites to win it all. And it’s hard to argue against it. They are the two-time defending champions, with 13players returning from their 2007 championship squad. They are the host team and will play their matches in front of large supportive crowds. They have been winning all of their most recent matches without much of sweat. But the main reason is just that they’re that darn good.

When one thinks of the German women’s team, they think of the brilliance of Birgit Prinz, the pure goal scoring ability of Inka Grings, the determined midfield play of Kerstin Garefrekes, and the steadfast goalkeeping of Nadine Angerer. Indeed, Germany is all of that, but they also have a strong nucleus of young players who make this side the envy of other teams.

Germany has nine players on their roster who are under 25 years of age. The new rising stars of the German team are the likes of Bajramaj, Okoyino da Mbabi, Laudehr, Peter, and Popp. It has been these young players, Popp in particular, that have been pouring in goals during three recent World Cup prep matches. Their mixture of experience and youth make them a formidable side.

But make no mistake about it, Prinz is the focal point of this team. She will be playing in her fifth World Cup, having scored 14 goals in her previous four. She is the most capped player in German women’s history with 211 and their all-time leading scorer with 128 goals. Now at age 33, a third championship on her own soil would be a crowning achievement, not that she hasn’t already achieved much in her great career.

If there is anyone on this team more hungry for a championship, it might be Inka Grings. One of the most prolific scorers in German history, she missed the 2003 World Cup with an injury and she was not on the 2007 squad. She was the top scorer in the 2009 Euros and is always a force to be reckoned with.

One might have thought, with no matches in nearly six months and only three in one year, that this team might be a little rusty. They quickly dispelled that notion in three warm-up matches, defeating North Korea 2-0 and then posting a pair of 5-0 victories over two teams that just missed being at the World Cup, Italy and Holland. They have pretty much had their way with opponents for quite some time now, with one exception.

The one team they have had problems with is the United States. Germany has lost their last three matches to the USA, including a surprising 4-0 defeat in Cleveland last May. Only one other team, Australia, has even scored on Germany over the past 18 months. But while the Americans have sputtered somewhat over the past year, Germany appears to be growing stronger with each match. The earliest the two teams could meet would be the semifinals, but it would be an intriguing matchup.

In spite of being drawn into a fairly tough group, one has to be confident that Germany can win Group A. In their last match against each of their Group A opponents, they won easily without much problem. They defeated Nigeria 8-0 last November, Canada 5-0 last September, and France 5-1 at the 2009 Euros. It would be hard to imagine them not advancing to the quarterfinals.

A recent ankle injury to Prinz surely gave German fans a scare, but she will be at the World Cup ready to play. So the question now is can Germany complete the task ahead of them? Everything seems to be in place for a nationwide celebration in Germany a month from now.

Note: Some information for this article was obtained at www.fifa.com and www.dfb.de.