Second row inspires respect: "Living bench" makes the DFB team "overpowering"

A striker who plays in the DFB team as a right-back - and scores her first goal.

Second row inspires respect: "Living bench" makes the DFB team "overpowering"

A striker who plays in the DFB team as a right-back - and scores her first goal. In addition, a 22-year-old who first “shocks” her new position – and then also hits. The final European Championship group game against Finland offers playing time for the second row. And delivers special stories.

A striker as a right-back, a central defender on the left. It's not as if the extremely positive atmosphere in the women's DFB team came about because of a wish from the national players. It is still national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg who decides how to play. And she decided before the European Football Championship in England: Nicole Anyomi would like to retrain her as a right-back, Sophia Kleinherne is only planned to play in the back left of the back four.

It was a "shock", Kleinherne said, but corrected this at the press conference with "Chance". "I accept the little challenge for myself," said the 22-year-old - and proved it in the third group game against Finland (3-0). The woman from Eintracht Frankfurt made her debut in the starting XI and played a lot on the offensive, especially in the incredibly superior early phase. In the 40th minute it was she who finally scored the redeeming goal. The DFB team had already fired well over ten shots on goal. It was Kleinherne's first goal in a Germany jersey.

In the second half, Anyomi made her first appearance at this European Championship. adjustment period? Not necessary for the 24-year-old. In the 48th minute, she helped captain Alexandra Popp make it 2-0, and in the 63rd minute she also scored her debut goal for Germany. "I've been waiting for the season for a long time. Now I finally got the chance," said the "right-back striker", who didn't allow the Finns to get through in the position assigned to her, let them run into the void and showed all her coolness. But at the same time had enough time to skilfully play off their offensive urge. "I said to Nici this morning: My gut feeling tells me you'll score a goal," said Voss-Tecklenburg.

It was a good feeling, just as it is around the German team. Before the European Championships, it was said to be an outsider at most, real chances for the title were not ascribed to it, because of the tough group with the supposed top favorite Spain and the reigning European runners-up Denmark, many even feared an early end. Not so the Germans themselves. Kleinherne said confidently: "It is our claim and our goal to win the European Championship." After three games with three wins and 9-0 goals, many former critics now follow this way of thinking. With hosts England and France, Germany is suddenly one of the favourites.

This is also due to the harmony in the squad. The "living bank" - this term coined Kleinherne - is repeatedly praised, the team spirit is great. The women keep emphasizing that they allow each other to play. Almuth Schult, who only acted as a substitute keeper after her pregnancy, distributed drinking bottles, Laura Freigang roared her heart out for 90 minutes against Denmark and Spain. She went on the bench for 76 minutes against Finland - she was allowed to play the last 14 minutes. "That means a lot to me." Because Sara Doorsoun also played against Finland for the first time - she did an extremely solid and safe job in central defense - not only did all Frankfurt players play in the squad at the European Championship, but all field players also got playing times in this tournament. "It gives a very good feeling," said Voss-Tecklenburg.

Of course, Finland was not a real indicator for the upcoming task in the quarterfinals against Austria. With three defeats they are eliminated from the tournament. But the yellow card suspensions of Lena Oberdorf and Felicitas Rauch, and the absence of the ailing Lina Magull and the still corona-positive Lea Schüller made changes in the starting eleven necessary. There is always a risk, too, as there is a risk of a less than perfect coordination on the pitch or even a drop in performance. Not so in the German team. It was time for the second row - which is actually a bit mean to call it that. Namely on the bench, that's where Voss-Tecklenburg's luxury problem becomes apparent, for which some colleagues at this European Championship are likely to envy them. She can muster Bayern regular Linda Dallmann or Wolfsburg's double winner Lena Lattwein, she has storm jewel Jule Brand in the squad. Even in goal there would be equivalent alternatives to Merle Frohms.

It's pretty - sorry - German that Kleinherne didn't just want to be happy despite their starting eleven debut, despite their first DFB goal and despite the clear 3-0 victory. "First and foremost, the win counts," she said on ZDF. But: "Of course there is also something to complain about this victory." So the "box occupation" did not fit optimally, with flanks the second post was often unoccupied. "We set out to do more than we were ultimately able to achieve." There are "little things" that could be important in knockout games. Her trainer was in a much more positive mood: "I didn't think it was super brilliant today, but it was very, very serious. It was passionate again," said Voss-Tecklenburg. "Not everything went well today, but at the end of the day we are in this group with nine points and 9-0 goals."

This statistic is a pound that should at least inspire respect for the upcoming opponents. "We know that Germany is superior and is currently performing extremely well," said Austria's national coach Irene Fuhrmann. In the neighborhood duel (Thursday, 9 p.m./ARD, DAZN and in the live ticker) many friends meet. 13 players in the ÖFB team play in the Bundesliga. "It will be an interesting battle," said Kleinherne. "I think it's good that Austria are the next opponents, I find it exciting because a lot of them come from the Bundesliga," emphasized Dallmann.

Meanwhile, the Austrians hope for the surprise effect. Hardly anyone had counted on them in the quarter-finals, England and Norway were considered too strong. England confirmed this with three wins and 14:0 goals, but Norway failed in their claims, Austria took the chance. "I can't find any words for this performance and that we actually reached the quarter-finals in this difficult group. The entire journey up to here was a wonderful experience," said Fuhrmann. Frankfurt's Barbara Dunst indulged in a dig at Germany: "They expected to meet Norway there. Now we've shown that some of us have to be reckoned with." Her teammate Julia Hickelsbeger-Füller, who is under contract with TSG Hoffenheim, agreed: "We will definitely show Germany who we are."

Voss-Tecklenburg praised the Austrians and said: "We're looking forward to this neighborhood duel. It won't be a stroll in any direction." But: "I still think we're a slight favourite." If only because of the "living bank", which can still play football really well at the same time.

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