The Germany Women guaranteed themselves a game against a third-placed side in the last 16 of the FIFA Women’s World Cup by beating South Africa 4-0 in their final group game.
Goals from Melanie Leupolz, Sara Däbritz and captain Alexandra Popp had the DFB-Frauen three goals to the good at the break, before Lina Magull wrapped up victory in the second half. After 1-0 wins against both China and Spain in the opening group matches, Germany have topped Group B with nine points and will now face the third-placed side from either Group A, C or D in the last 16 on Saturday (17:30 CEST).
“We still have potential. Things went our way today, but we still made life difficult for ourselves,” said head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg. “However, the most important thing is that we won the game. Hopefully the four goals today and getting nine points will give us a boost in confidence going forward.” Alex Popp added: “It’s was important to move the ball around well today. We showed that we’re capable of playing good football. We’re delighted to top the group – that was our initial goal.”
Voss-Tecklenburg made three changes to her line-up in Montpellier. Klara Bühl and Lina Magull made their first World Cup starts, while Melanie Leupolz returned in midfield. Almuth Schult continued in goal behind a back four of Giulia Gwinn, Sara Doorsoun, Marina Hegering and Verena Schweers. The midfield was made up Svenja Huth, Leupolz, Magull and Sara Däbritz, while Alexandra Popp and Bühl completed the 4-4-2 system. The only player unavailable remained Dzsenifer Marozsan (broken toe), who according to the coach is making good progress, but it’s still unclear as to whether she will be okay to play in the last 16 on Saturday.
15,502 spectators were in attendance in Montpellier for Germany’s first ever meeting with “Banyana Banyana” and they witnessed a relatively one-sided affair. The DFB-Frauen were dominant in possession and pressed South Africa deep inside their own half, forcing mistakes from the backline. A corner in the 14th minute then provided the deserved opener, with an unmarked Leupolz heading from Schweers’ delivery.
Popp should have made it 2-0 moments later when a parried shot landed at her feet, but she fired over the target. Sara Däbritz wasn’t as wasteful when given a golden opportunity though, slotting the ball into the empty net after a poor clearance from the goalkeeper. Captain Popp did make up for her earlier miss before the break, however, showing just how good she is in the air to thunder in a header from Gwinn’s cross for a 3-0 lead.
Carolin Simon was introduced for Schweers at the break and the fresh legs helped Germany continue their dominance. A fourth goal seemed inevitable and Leupolz almost converted another header if not for a good save from Andile Dlamini. Set pieces were proving a threat in particular and another one did spell a fourth Germany goal just short of the hour mark. Simon’s deep free-kick was headed onto the post by Hegering, before Magull stole in to tap home the rebound.
With four goals now the difference, Voss-Tecklenburg’s side could be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas a little in the southern-French heat. There were more good chances for the 2016 Olympic champions though, only for Däbritz and substitute Lea Schüller to be brilliantly denied by the South African goalkeeper. Meanwhile Schult was also called into action at the end other to keep Thembi Kgatlana out superbly and make it three clean sheets from three in an all-round successful group stage.###more###