Germany playmaker Renate Lingor's first act on emerging from the dressing room at the Hongkou Football Stadium in Shanghai, following the record-breaking 11-0 demolition of Argentina was to take a deep breath or two before enjoying a sip of milky coffee.
The seasoned 31-year-old appeared to have enjoyed the festival
of goals, but her unruffled composure suggested she was far from
overwhelmed. Sure enough, when
FIFA.com asked for her reaction to the
biggest-ever margin of victory in the history of the FIFA
Women's World Cup, Lingor expressed utter surprise:
"Really? A new record? I honestly didn't know that up to
This serene mentality could yet be Germany's secret recipe for success at the global event in China. Lingor, Birgit Prinz and Co. have seen and won everything there is to see and win, so an exaggerated reaction was highly unlikely. Coach Silvia Neid's defending champions were quick to recognise the conclusions that really mattered from Monday's Opening Match. "The best thing about our 11-0 win over Argentina wasn't the record. The best thing was that we succeeded in taking nearly every chance we had. That's what we'll take away from the match," said Lingor, herself among the scorers after contributing a fulminating left-foot volley to the one-sided rout.
When it came to records, Prinz seemed just as unconcerned as Lingor. The 29-year-old striker, a three-time FIFA World Player of the Year, again underlined her exceptional quality with a hat-trick against the outclassed Argentines. However, informed by FIFA.com that she had drawn level with US great Michelle Akers as the all-time top scorer at the finals on 12 goals, she produced only a wry smile: "As you know, I've never thought much of statistics and I'm not about to start now."
Seasoned observers of the Frankfurt player were not surprised to hear Prinz calling for Germany to improve, as if the opening-day fireworks had never happened. "I wouldn't say we've hit anything like top form yet, because we made far too many errors against Argentina," she said, her words almost taking on a threatening tone. "Unfortunately, even after the opening match, we really don't quite know where we stand."
Prinz's fellow strikers also enjoyed a field day. Sandra Smisek and Melanie Behringer added four further goals between them and interchanged smoothly with the Germany captain, at least one of the three-strong forward line constantly dropping back to help out in midfield. While Neid made no secret of her satisfaction at Smisek's hat-trick ("I'm delighted she's back in the groove"), the 21 year-old Behringer was one of the few in the cool-headed German squad to be obviously bowled over by the record margin of victory. "It's the kind of thing you'll always look back on with pleasure in your old age," said the youngster, considered one of the brightest prospects in the German game.
German Football Association (DFB) President Dr Theo Zwanziger, known for his keen support of the women's game, was naturally to be found in Shanghai on Monday. The 62-year-old, seated in the stands alongside FIFA Executive member Franz Beckenbauer as the goals rained in, refrained from over-lavish praise afterwards in a conscious effort to avoid increasing the pressure on Prinz and Co. "If this team can make it beyond the quarter-finals, I believe they could go all the way," Zwanziger said. Should they make the last eight, Germany would meet USA, Sweden, Korea DPR or Nigeria. "All our remaining opponents will definitely be stronger than Argentina," Prinz warned.