The Germany women’s national side finished the year as it began in March: with a comprehensive victory. After beating Ireland 3-1 in Dublin, they finished EUROs qualifying without dropping a point and having conceded just one goal. Head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (52) discusses a special year, an inspiring side and aims for the next few months in an interview with DFB.de.
DFB.de: Congratulations on an impressive performance in EUROs qualifying! What are your thoughts on how the year concluded?
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg: We’ve qualified comfortably for the 2022 EUROs in England. We conceded our first goal of qualifying in Dublin, and in the second half we lost a bit of precision and control of the game. But on the whole, we can be pleased with how qualifying went. It says a lot about the side that they were critical of themselves in Dublin; after the game they said: We can do better.
DFB.de: Ann-Katrin Berger made her debut in goal. What do you make of her development, and everything she’s achieved after overcoming cancer?
Voss-Tecklenburg: It was really important for her to make her debut for Germany. I see her as a very interesting and calm person. There's always a sense of calmness about her. She has a good physique too. She does what’s needed of her in England at Chelsea – she starts the build-up play and makes brave decisions. And that reflects her life. She’s made brave decisions in sport and in her personal life, and she’s had to deal with some serious setbacks. That’s shaped her personality enormously. We expect her to bring that strength here too. Now that she’s made her debut, she’s a part of the side and she can show her personality even more.
DFB.de: With Merle Frohms, Laura Benkarth, Ann-Katrin Berger and Almuth Schult vying for a spot, how is the competition for the goalkeeping position looking for the 2022 EUROs?
Voss-Tecklenburg: Competition for places is heating up in all positions. It’s exciting looking at that position; if Almuth Schult can come back next year, we’ll have four goalkeepers with great quality. They all really strengthen the side. At the moment, Merle Frohms is our number one, and the team knows that. It’s a challenge for the other goalkeepers as well as for us in terms of selection.
DFB.de: What’s your review of 2020?
Voss-Tecklenburg: It was a difficult year from a sporting point of view as we couldn’t play as many games as we wanted. We did a good job in two games at the Algarve Cup with very different line-ups. Then the third game was cancelled, and we had the coronavirus break. We qualified very early for the EUROs and then looked forward to playing England, which was also cancelled. That disruption has an impact on the side’s processes. You’re looking forward to the games, you prepare well, you’re ready – and then you can’t implement it on the pitch.
DFB.de: And despite that, the team was able to continue putting in good performances.
Voss-Tecklenburg: It’s so important to show that you’re fully up for it and want to keep a high tempo. In all the games, we ran really well and those stats kept increasing. For us as the coaching staff, it’s really important to see the development of individual players, both at their clubs and with us. We’ve already seen some really good steps, and we’re looking forward to the new year and hopefully continuing our success. So 2020 hasn’t been a lost year from a sporting point of view. On many levels, particularly mentally, it was a challenge. We know that we’re privileged to be able to continue doing our jobs. We’re really grateful for that. Our players are also very reflective and think about other people in this situation. That reflects the character of this side.
DFB.de: When you look at you and the players in training, you always see good energy, lots of laughing and people having fun. Is that a fair assessment?
Voss-Tecklenburg: I think you need that fun to bring your best performances. We’ve made a few changes in the coaching staff to distribute the roles better. It’s working really well. It’s really important to me that we have fun on the pitch, laugh and don’t take ourselves too seriously in some situations. That doesn’t mean that the players aren’t serious about performing well, being driven and focused. It doesn’t stop any of that. The side knows how to have the right seriousness at the right moment. I would be worried if we had players who couldn’t laugh. Every player needs to enjoy it and have belief on the pitch – and they all do. If that wasn’t the case, it wouldn’t work.
DFB.de: It sounds like you have lots of fun with your team.
Voss-Tecklenburg: The side has great characters and personalities as well as a good balance between a youthful care-free attitude, boldness and the seriousness of the older players. We still have plenty of potential to improve our performances. Our big advantage is that we support each other: We help the team, but the team helps us too. The players come and ask things from us – that’s good! I’m optimistic that we can’t just keep having fun, we can improve our quality too. We’re on the right path.
DFB.de: How do you look ahead to 2021?
Voss-Tecklenburg: It’s the last year before the EUROs. We have really clear aims of how we want to play. We’re planning to play some strong sides and want to continue our good performances from this year. We want to see how we do against top opponents. Then, in the second half of the year, we’ll go into qualifying for the World Cup. We’ll have to wait and see which opponents we get in our group. We’ll test the team against some high-quality teams, and then we’ll ramp up our preparations as the EUROs gets closer. I’m really looking forward to it.