May 19, 2024

The US and Australia wait: Can Germany survive the group?

The women of the German Football Association will meet the USA, Australia, Zambia or Morocco in Group B at the Olympic Games in Paris. What can we expect from the competitors – and what are Germany's chances of winning and advancing?

This text contains a classification of current events, which also includes, in addition to data and facts, assessments of Justin Kraft and experts if necessary. Learn about the different types of journalistic texts.

The United States of America: a superpower in transition

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It was already clear before the draw was made that Germany would meet the United States in the Olympics. Since the women of the German Football Association are not allowed to meet teams from their continental confederation in the group stage, there was no other option. The other two European teams in the USA pot are France and Spain.

The USA and Germany were once the standard in women's football. But they both have in common that they have fallen behind in world football. Germans are a little more so than Americans. However, things went downhill for the United States at the latest after winning the 2019 World Cup. At last year's World Cup, after the mixed group stage, the match ended in the round of 16 against Sweden.

Team faces like Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz have announced their retirement, and stars like Alex Morgan (34), Lane Williams (30), and Crystal Dunn (31) are already in the final stages of their careers. There's also a surprising change to the coaching bench.

Two months before the Olympics, Emma Hayes will take over as national coach. After twelve very successful years at Chelsea, the 47-year-old is starting a new chapter. So the signs point to change. There is no doubt that there is talent on this team. But there may still be contradictions, especially at the beginning of Hayes' term in office.

Germany may not be well coordinated, but that is exactly where the opportunity lies in a direct duel. Compared to France and Spain, the top-tier United States is perhaps the opponent the DFB women are most likely to beat.

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It is currently difficult to estimate where the United States actually stands. They recently won the Gold Cup, beating Colombia (3-0), Canada (5-3) and Brazil (1-0). However, it has been a long time since we played against a top-tier opponent.

Australia: Most annoying opponent?

At the 2023 World Cup, the Matildas were one of the big stories of the tournament. Perhaps the word surprise is an exaggeration. After all, the team has high quality in its ranks with Caitlin Ford (29), Ellie Carpenter (23), Mary Fowler (21), Steve Catley (30) and others. All players who play in the Women's Super League in England or, like Carpenter, for Olympique Lyonnais.

Then there's actually Sam Kerr, the team's star player. But the 30-year-old tore his cruciate ligament in January and will therefore miss the Olympic tournament. A bitter setback for Australia, which, despite the high quality of the team, revealed a certain dependence on the best striker of the World Cup.

However: Australia has trained well. Tony Gustafsson has been coaching the team since September 2020 and has managed to instill a disciplined way of playing against the ball in the team. Germany can expect their opponents to try to score goals through pressing and attacking transition situations.

A playing style that does not necessarily suit Horst Hrubesch's team. The Germans have difficulty with possession. The Australians' physical and aggressive playing style could also make them the most troublesome opponent in the group.

However, changing results against stronger countries give hope. In the World Cup, there were two clear defeats to England (1:3) and Sweden (0:2), although the matches were very close. In December, the Australians lost twice to Canada – once 0-1 and once very clearly 0-5. On the other hand, there are respectable successes against France (in the World Cup and in a friendly match before it) and England (the win before the World Cup).

Australia is also difficult to evaluate. But unlike in the USA, it's relatively clear here what the DFB team expects. This makes preparation a little easier.

Zambia or Morocco: high risk of default

The third opponent in the second group has not yet been determined. Zambia and Morocco will play in April to see who will qualify for the Olympic tournament and thus qualify directly to the German group. They would both be obvious outsiders in the group.

The German national team played against Morocco in the group stage of the 2023 World Cup and won the opening match 6-0. However, the African team reached the round of 16 thanks to 1-0 wins over South Korea and Colombia – and Germany was eliminated. In the round of 16, it suffered another heavy defeat. France won 4-0.

Aside from reaching the round of 16, the goalless draws against Italy and Switzerland before the World Cup are considered Morocco's biggest successes. In September there were two defeats to rival Zambia (2:6 and 0:2). Signal?

Germany also had an experience against Zambia, but it was not enjoyable. Before the World Cup, the German team lost a friendly match 3-2. Outstanding at the time: Barbara Banda. The 24-year-old scored two goals and also caused major problems for the German defence. The striker currently plays for the American club Orlando Pride.

But the star of the team is Rachel Kundanangi. The 23-year-old is considered one of the greatest talents in African football. In La Liga, she scored eight goals and two assists in 14 matches for Madrid CFF. In the winter, Kundanangi moved to Bay FC in the USA for a record transfer fee of €805,000.

Zambia is probably the most annoying opponent compared to Morocco due to a strong attack and a defense that is difficult to play against because it is very deep. But they are also clear favorites in the fight for a place in the German group.

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Predictions: What will happen next for Germany in the quarter-finals?

The chances of reaching at least the quarter-finals are very good for Germany. On the one hand, the trend has been upward in recent weeks and months, but on the other hand, it should be possible to be at least one of the top two finishers among the drawn competitors. In total, only four of the twelve teams were eliminated in the group stage.

If the DFB women win their group, they will face the second-placed team from Group C – Spain, Japan, Brazil or a qualifying team from Africa (Nigeria or South Africa) in the quarter-finals. France, Colombia, Canada or New Zealand will be the competitors if Germany comes in second place. Because then it will be against the runner-up of the first group.

If they finish third, they will play against one of the leaders of Group A or C. In this regard, the German team must have a great interest in not reaching the quarter-finals via third place. You are more likely to face a viable opponent in the first match of the knockout stage if you win the group or at least finish second.

However, it is also clear that the DFB team will have to look at itself in the coming months and work to solve problems that have repeatedly arisen in recent months. Looking at Australia, Zambia or Morocco, it will be necessary to develop the ball possession game further. Otherwise, there is a risk of a repeat of what happened in the 2023 World Cup.

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