She smiled and shook her head shortly after taking a seat in the stands. Shortly before the end, Klara Bühl missed a big chance, actually quite untypical for her. Nevertheless, after the 2-0 win against Austria, she was recognized as the best player.
With her courageous and carefree manner, the 21-year-old put her stamp on the German game in the quarter-finals of the European Championship. While most of her team-mates seemed a bit nervous and agitated for long periods, it was the young midfielder from FC Bayern Munich who went ahead with calm.
The situation before the opening goal was indicative of Bühl’s performance on Thursday evening. After Alexandra Popp put the opposing goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger under pressure and forced an inaccurate tee shot, Marina Hegering passed the ball to Bühl on the left.
The pass was actually a bit too steep and Austria’s captain Carina Wenninger seemed to have everything under control. But obviously she hadn’t expected that her Munich teammate would buy her so much guts and ultimately prepare the German soccer team’s opening goal.
Overall, it was the expected game of equals on Thursday night at the Brentford Community Stadium, with Austria being the better team in the first half and also being unlucky as Marina Georgieva hit the post.
Germany seemed a bit surprised by the opponents’ pressing and struggled to get out of pressure situations. “We didn’t really find our way into our game today, we weren’t quite as courageous in building up the game and didn’t strive for the solutions that we actually intended tactically,” said national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg. “In the second half we changed tactics a bit and then did better. But overall it was a great game and we are happy that we won 2-0.”
In addition to Bühl, Lena Oberdorf received special praise from the national coach: “Today I would like to pay a big compliment to a player, although I never do it, and that is Lena Oberdorf. What she played today, in this position, at such a young age, wow, that’s an honor.”
The 20-year-old from VfL Wolfsburg could be found almost everywhere in defensive midfield, conquering balls in important situations, winning ten out of thirteen tackles and five out of six header duels. Along with Bühl, she was one of the few players who kept a cool head, especially in the very chaotic first half, and who, despite the high pressure from the opposition, called for balls and knew what to do with them.
Appropriately, it was a combination of Oberdorf’s strength in the duel and Bühler’s carelessness that almost made it 2-0 in the middle of the second half. After Oberdorf won the ball, Bühl only hit the top of the bar with her long-range shot from around 20 meters.
It is no coincidence that Bühl is one of the top performers in the club and also plays an important role in the offensive in the DFB team from a young age. Thanks to her two-footedness, she is unpredictable, since she can become dangerous both on the way in and on the outside, as with her submission.
In the second half, the high pressing of the Austrians finally seemed to take its toll. The strengths of the previously strongest team at the European Championships were dwindling and the lack of depth in the Austrian squad was noticeable. In complete contrast to Germany, who finally got into the game better when Linda Dallmann came on.
Nevertheless, the teamwork didn’t work as well as it did against Denmark or Finland. The Austrians demanded everything from the Voss-Tecklenburg team and became particularly dangerous with set pieces.
All the more bitter from Austria’s point of view that they could not score their own goal and instead lost due to two individual errors. They lacked the speed going forward in the game to get behind the chain of the German team. In addition, the very attentive Merle Frohms was there in the German goal for plug-in passes.
On the offensive, Nicole Billa, who scores from all positions in the Bundesliga, was almost not a factor. It makes a difference whether a Jule Brand runs at her pace to the baseline at her club TSG Hoffenheim and prepares her chances perfectly, or whether she often has to create her own chances in the Austrian national team.
After Zinsberger already played a bad pass when the DFB-Elf scored the opening goal, she didn’t even get that far shortly before the end when Popp blocked her shot into the goal. “The idea was that we would apply direct pressure. The goalkeeping coach is always looking for weaknesses and the goalkeeper doesn’t really have her ball-remote side on her screen,” said the goal scorer to make it 2-0.
“All the time I was doing these routes and they were always extremely close. It was all the better that it was enough at the last moment.” It was Popp’s fourth goal in the fourth European Championship game. The attacker is the first player in tournament history to score in four consecutive finals appearances.
The Wolfsburg player again showed a strong performance, showed overview and altruism immediately before Magull’s goal by cleverly letting the ball through and was a fixture of the German offensive. The national coach says about her that it does something to opposing teams when Popp is on the pitch.
Ultimately, it was efficiency that got Germany back into a semi-final – their first at a major tournament since the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Nevertheless, the German team should have noticed that the knockout round is a slightly different number than the group phase. The German players were unusually nervous and suddenly had something to lose.
Despite the weaker performance in terms of play, the DFB team has proven that it can also come through the fight. Which could become a crucial trait in the semifinals. Next Wednesday, Germany meets the winner of the last quarter-final between France and the Netherlands in Milton Keynes.