Germany hoping for a repeat against USA
Victory over Nigeria in the Olympic quarter-finals came at a price for the German women's football team. In temperatures of around 30 degrees, Tina Theune-Meyer's team were forced to give their all in Patras. It was gruelling work against the Africans who went ahead before Germany overturned the scoreline to claim a 2-1 victory and set up a dream semi-final against the USA.
The last-four fixture pitches the reiging world champions against two-time world champions in a déja-vu fixture. Almost exactly a year ago, the two teams met in the semi-finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup in the USA, Germany gaining the upper hand in a 3-0 victory in Portland before going on to lift the world crown.
However, before the momentous clash with USA, Germany's women will need to re-charge their batteries somewhat. "The next few days will be about regaining our strength so that we can overcome the USA," explained coach Tina Theune-Meyer after the match against Nigeria. Recuperation and relaxation will be on the menu for the German team who left for Heraklion on Saturday morning where they will spend the next couple of days preparing for the game. The holiday island of Crete will be the backdrop for the semi-final; the Pankritio Stadium the stage as these giants of women's football do battle for a place in the Athens Olympics final.
In their Quarter-final the Germans made it diffcult for themselves and never really got into their rhythm. "For long spells, we were simply reactive rather than proactive. Our midfield was completely overrun," Theune-Meyer complained afterwards. Only the introduction of Conny Pohlers after the re-start breathed fresh life into the game, particularly towards the closing stages. The Potsdam player scored the winning goal in the 81st minute to redeem the two gilt-edged opportunities she had squandered earlier. "You have to make a difference when you come on as substitute. I could have wrapped things up sooner with the missed chances," said the relieved 25-year-old after the final whistle.
The goal and her overall performance in the second 45 minutes gave the striker hope that she might be involved from the start in the forthcoming semi-final. "I feel fit and am ready to play from the start," she said optimistically.
However, it they are to prevail against USA, the Germany team as a whole will need to lift their performance level drastically. "We only woke up after conceding. We can't allow that to happen against a team of USA's calibre," the German coach warned. After Mercy Akide gave the Africans an early second-half lead, it was a defender in Steffi Jones who pulled Germany back into the tie with the equaliser.
Neither team will need any extra motivation for Monday's clash. Both teams know each other's qualities. Coach Tina Theune-Meyer is confident that her team's showing in the Nigeria game will not be repeated: "When there is a final at stake, the team will rediscover themselves and produce the football we are capable of."