Soccer Football - Women's Euro 2022 - Group B - Germany v Spain - Brentford Community Stadium, London, Britain - July 12, 2022 Germany's Marina Hegering celebrates with Kathrin Hendrich after the match REUTERS/John Sibley

Merle Frohms had to stretch. After a remarkable combination by the Spaniards, the German defense was shattered and Lucía García was free in front of the German goalkeeper after a direct pass from Patricia Guijarro. Frohms went wide, spread as wide as he could and narrowed García’s shot angle.

The Spaniard only hit the side netting but it was a scene that showed just how quickly the slightest oversight can go. Defense chief Marina Hegering had let himself be lured out a little too far in the situation, which gave García the gap.

It was one of Spain’s few successful attacks through the middle. Throughout the season, the German midfield with Sara Däbritz, Lena Oberdorf and Lina Magull tried to close the center, which they mostly succeeded in doing.

In the first few minutes of the game, the team of national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg pressed against Spain with a similar high pressure against the Danes in the first group game of the European Championship. Nevertheless, the 1-0 was mainly due to the Spanish goalkeeper Sandra Paños, who, with a capital drop-out, made the goal possible for Klara Bühl in the first place.

After the opening goal, the Germans weren’t quite as high, which would have been very ambitious against coach Jorge Vilda’s team from the start. Instead, Germany withdrew and let the opponent take control of the game.

“We instructed the team that we wanted to work in two pressing zones, with very high, aggressive pressing at the beginning. That worked straight away with the quick goal and played into our hands,” analyzed national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg. “Then we had a phase in which we didn’t do quite as well. We were more in midfield pressing and didn’t act from a 4-5-1, but more from a 4-4-2.”

In this phase, Spain played the typical short passing game and showed a technically very impressive football. The dangerous scenes in the last third were largely absent. Germany was under constant pressure during this phase, but presented themselves defensively but very attentively.

In particular, the central defender duo Hegering and Kathrin Hendrich seemed well-rehearsed. They let almost nothing through and, together with the three central midfielders in front of them, forced Spain onto the unloved flanks.

It came as a surprise that the defense played so confidently. While Hendrich had a strong season at VfL Wolfsburg, Hegering was only able to play five competitive games for FC Bayern due to many injuries, the first game on the last day of the Bundesliga after a five-month break.

Voss-Tecklenburg had no concerns about letting her play anyway: “I wasn’t nervous at all and I’m glad that Marina is there. She worked so hard for it and we knew when she was fit and on the pitch, she was a leader who marched up front.” Unsurprisingly, Hegering was voted player of the match.

The Spaniards showed a good game overall and Germany also had the necessary luck. Ultimately, the match plan worked out perfectly. “We were already prepared that we wouldn’t have the ball that much, but that we wanted to be extremely compact and aggressive in the duels. Then being so efficient up front was the perfect start for us. We were able to fully concentrate on the defensive,” said Alexandra Popp.

The tactical orientation demanded everything from the German players. Despite this, they remained focused and disciplined almost throughout. “I can only give my compliments to the defensive readiness today and the ways that hurt to achieve this success,” said Voss-Tecklenburg in praise of her team.

Germany sometimes let themselves be pushed in much further back than against Denmark, but was then there in the decisive moments in their own half and aggressive in the duels. The fact that her concept ultimately worked was also due to players like Svenja Huth, who actually has her strengths in the offensive area, but was still not too bad for any run and also replaced Giulia Gwinn on the right full-back position when she had switched in forward .

Overall, Germany didn’t play as spectacularly as they did against Denmark. But clever. With 30 percent possession, Germany had only half as much as against Denmark, but the Spaniards were unable to capitalize on this.

Two shots on goal by the German team in the second half are matched by just one by the Spanish side. And the strong Frohms parried that. In the end, it wasn’t necessarily the better team that won, but the more efficient ones. Spain may have played great football, but despite their superior possession, the side were far too harmless in the final.

Obviously, the mechanisms are already working in the German team, but the national coach warns against too much euphoria: “Things are going well at the moment, but we will stay with us. We won’t make the mistake of thinking that a little less is possible against Finland.”

On Saturday, Germany meets Finland in the last group game (9 p.m. / ZDF). Nothing is at stake for either team. That will change for Germany in the quarter-finals, where either Austria or Norway are waiting.