VALENCIENNES, France – As Germany clung on for another 1-0 win at the Women’s World Cup, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg could sense the unease in her team.
And considerable relief in edging past Spain.
So when the final whistle blew in northern France on Wednesday the coach quickly gathered her players on the field.
“There was some tension,” she said. “I told my players we pushed our limits.”
The way her side lost possession of the ball still grated. But Voss-Tecklenburg ultimately reminded the squad to be proud and united in the pursuit of a third world title.
The Germans are finding it far from easy going at the start of Group B, relying on Sara Dabritz’s goal in the 42nd minute against the run of play to prevail against the skillful Spanish.
“In the last 15 minutes in the first half,” said defender Sara Doorsoun, “we came together and said, ‘OK be more self-confident.“’
Dabritz had the confidence to be in the right place to pounce.
After goalkeeper Sandra Panos couldn’t keep hold of Alexandra Popp’s header, Dabritz got on the end of the loose ball and bundled it into the net.
“We were playing some great football,” Spain coach Jorge Vilda said through a translator, “and in the end some mistakes cost us dearly against a strong side.”
Until that point, the confident passing, the intensity and much of the verve had been coming from Spain in heavy rain.
“When we got the ball they put a lot of pressure on our defense,” Doorsoun said. “It was definitely tough to get the ball.”
Playing in only their second World Cup, the Spanish were more than just equals to a second-ranked team that has made at least the quarterfinals in all eight editions of the FIFA tournament.
What was missing was the ability to complete well-worked moves with a goal.
When a high ball was sent to Nahikari Garcia in the 14th minute, the forward broke through the center backs. But with only goalkeeper Almuth Schult to beat, Garcia sent the ball wide.
“We showed what Spain can do on the pitch and I think the team is strengthened by our performance,” said Vilda, whose side opened with a victory over South Africa. “We have to never been as close as we are now … and we need to use this as a basis for growth.”
So does Germany, which opened with the 1-0 victory over China.
“We know that we have to play better,” Doorsoun said. “But mentality of the team is good.”
But Germany will still be without Dzsenifer Marozsan for the final group game against South Africa as the midfielder recovers from a broken toe.
“In the difficult situations she helps out every player,” Voss-Tecklenburg said, “because she doesn’t lose many balls. It would have been great to have her with us. We tried to compensate her loss.”
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