Germany have made a huge step towards qualification for the 2019 Women’s World Cup. In the penultimate match of qualifying, Svenja Huth’s brace gave Horst Hrubesch’s side a 2-0 win over Iceland in Reykjavik, a result which sees Germany rise above their opponents to the top of Group 5. Germany now have 18 points compared with Iceland’s 16 with only the top ranked team in the group directly qualifying for next year’s tournament.
In their final qualifier on Tuesday (17:00 CEST), Germany face the Faroe Islands, who are bottom of the group having not yet scored a point in qualifying, with a point enough to secure a ticket to the World Cup.
Opting for a 4-4-2 system, Hrubesch named an experienced team for the Group 5 clash with Sara Doorsoun and captain Kristin Demann at centre-back while Leonie Maier and Carolin Simon completed the back four. A Bayern München trio of Melanie Leupolz, Sara Däbritz and left-winger Verena Schweers started in midfield with goalscorer Huth providing pace on the right-wing. Alexandra Popp and Lea Schüller combined as a deadly duo in attack.
After the surprising 3-2 home defeat in Wiesbaden, the team had a lot planned to win the return game in Iceland. DFB President Reinhard Grindel and vice president Rainer Koch were among the 15,000 supporters in the sold out Laugardalsvöllur stadium which saw the two time world champions make a slow start to the match. Iceland were aggressive and threatened the German defence early on. This made it difficult for the German players to settle into their game plan.
The first big chance of the match fell to Germany as Schweers produced a cross from the left that fell to Bayern teammate Däbritz on the edge of the box. However, her shot crashed against the crossbar (12’). Following this chance, Germany quickly became the stronger side and had a lot of possession in the Iceland half. Initially, Germany struggled to carve out big chances with Iceland goalkeeper Gudbjörg Gunnarsdottir saving a long distance shot from Maier (32’).
Germany were rewarded for their pressure towards the end of the first half. Gunnarsdottir could only parry a powerful shot from Leupolz to her side and the fast-thinking Huth had no problems hitting the back of the net from close range (42’). Just two minutes later, Popp missed a great opportunity to make it 2-0 as her diving header narrowly missed the right post of the goal (44’).
At the start of the second half, the visitors retained control of the match and continued to create chances. In the 50th minute, Germany had a goal from Lea Schüller disallowed by referee Pernilla Larsson because of a previous foul. Two minutes later, Huth dangerously approached Gunnarsdottir’s goal but the Potsdam player couldn’t find a teammate with her cross. Fanndis Fridriksdottir then had Iceland’s best chance as her shot from 25 metres out flew centimeters wide of the right post of Germany’s goal (57’).
Germany were very compact in defence and were purposeful going forward. In the 74th minute, Simon unlocked the Iceland defence with a pass to a thankful Huth, who scored her second goal after a good move by the Germans. Germany were in full control in the closing stages and went on to give Hrubesch his 4th win in 4 matches.