Germany's striker Alexandra Popp (R) celebrates scoring her team's second goal during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Group B football match between Finland and Germany at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes, north of London on July 16, 2022. (Photo by DAMIEN MEYER / AFP) / No use as moving pictures or quasi-video streaming. Photos must therefore be posted with an interval of at least 20 seconds.

Four minutes before the end, Alexandra Popp sprinted over 20 meters to the opposing baseline, giving Laura Freigang a chance to score. A symbol for the performance of the German team against Finland in the last group game at this European Football Championship. The group victory and the entry into the quarter-finals were already certain – a good opportunity to rotate and, above all, to conserve energy for the knockout phase.

However, the German team had other plans and showed a very committed performance. “We were in the game from the start and solved it seriously. It wasn’t brilliant, but we still did the same thing today,” was the summary of national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.

The fact that Germany got off to a good start right from the start was mainly due to the players who were new to the starting XI, such as Linda Dallmann and Sophia Kleinherne, who had given the lead just before the end of the first half. In the first ten minutes alone, the German team had three good opportunities through Popp, Klara Bühl and Sara Däbritz.

The poor exploitation of chances is ultimately the only point of criticism. Something that looked very different against Spain. “Of course, there is still something to complain about today’s victory, but those are the little things that we still have to put right before the quarter-finals,” criticized Kleinherne. “For example, in the box occupation, in the flank game, that the second post was often not occupied.”

This self-criticism characterizes the German team and is also commendable. But against Finland the result is now more than okay. Because against the deep team of national coach Anna Signeul, who sometimes defended with seven players in their own penalty area, you first have to find a way to get the goal at all. This is also illustrated by the statistics with 31 shots fired by Germany, of which only seven came on target.

After all, the keys to success were the crosses and the play on the outside. There Giulia Gwinn and Svenja Huth showed a strong performance again, who harmonize very well and are difficult to defend due to their constant rotation. It was also a great move by these two, which led to the 1-0 in the middle after a pass from Huth to Gwinn and her cross to Kleinherne.

In addition to the offensive, it is worth mentioning that the DFB-Elf survived the group stage without conceding a goal. This was partly due to goalkeeper Merle Frohms, but also to the good German defense, which hardly allowed the opponents any chances. “Anyone who would have said before the preliminary round that we would go out of this group with nine points and a goal difference of 9:0, that’s bravura,” said Voss-Tecklenburg.

Against Finland, the German team couldn’t keep up the high tempo throughout the season and occasionally, albeit rarely, allowed themselves breaks. You could tell the German team had played intensively in the group games so far. “There were a few little things that stuck a bit, maybe not quite as fresh. When it comes to precision and the last bit of energy, it’s normal when you’re 3-0 up that not everything works out,” says Voss-Tecklenburg.

There has been a lot of talk about the quality of the substitutes, which was shown again against Finland. For example, through the ambitious Nicole Anyomi, who made her European Championship debut in the second half and promptly scored a goal. “I’ve waited a long time for the season and now I finally got the chance to play and just wanted to do my best,” said the goal scorer to make it 3-0.

Overall, the German team again showed a great mentality. All the players on the pitch were full of joy and wanted to give their best performance. It may also be necessary for the German team to keep up this intensity for their heads. Maybe they watched the English team’s last group game, which won 5-0 against Northern Ireland, and wanted to follow suit.

In contrast to opponents in the quarter-finals Austria, Germany was able to rest its regular players a little and thus may have a small advantage before the first knockout game on Thursday in Brentford (9 p.m., Dazn).