China's new wall
Winning start for debutants
Positives for women's football
Giulia Gwinn's goal ultimately proved decisive for Germany in a hard-fought match against China PR. Our Team Reporters highlight six lessons learned from a gripping encounter.
Great Wall of China
Jia Xiuquan's side were robust in defence, standing firm in the opening 20 minutes to weather the German storm. That is nothing new for China, whose last four defeats at FIFA Women's World Cups™ have all been via a 1-0 scoreline. Next opponents Spain and South Africa will also have their work cut out against a dogged backline.
Winning start for newcomers
Germany are currently in a transitional period and are still finding their rhythm with 11 of the 14 German players taking the field in the opener making their FIFA Women’s World Cup™ debuts. With that in mind, victory in their opening match against a tough opponent was all the more important. It was Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's first competitive game in charge of the side, having overseen her first game as head coach in a 1-0 friendly win over France at the end of February. "It was a first Women's World Cup outing for a lot of our players, a first major tournament and there was a great atmosphere here in front of 15,000 fans," Germany goalkeeper Almuth Schult told FIFA.com at the final whistle.
China vulnerable at corners
Having conceded eight corners against Germany, the Steel Roses will need to be alert to the danger of set pieces, especially against European teams that can exploit their physical advantages in dead-ball situations. It was no coincidence that Germany's winning goal came from a corner. Avoiding such scenarios against Spain is likely to be particularly difficult, as La Roja are experts at retaining possession and will see plenty of the ball in and around China's penalty area.
In Germany's warm-up games, it was noticeable that the players were able to operate in a variety of positions with ease: allowing them to quickly alter their tactical approach. This versatility makes Germany highly unpredictable and means they can swiftly react to injuries or any situation that may arise during a game. "I'd definitely say it's a strength and it makes the lives of the coaching staff easier," Sara Doorsoun told FIFA.com. "I'd be happy to have versatile players if I was a coach."
Room for improvement in China's attack
China lacked a cutting edge in the final third against Germany and their players will need to make quicker decisions on the ball in future. China registered just four shot all game with only one on target: compare that to Germany's 18 shots with five on target. There are high hopes in this regard for Paris Saint-Germain star Wang Shuang - who started on the bench against Germany - with coach Xiuquan eager to emphasise the importance of the collective as the foundation for success. Although she struggled to make an impact when she came on in the second half, she is sure to see more action very soon.
Improvement all round
The final observation is a positive for women's football in general: while China's backline was expected to cause Germany problems, it was striking that the Steel Roses were able to create so many good chances at the other end of the pitch. Similarly, Spain struggled for long spells against South Africa, the underdogs in Group B. The level of tactical expertise continues to improve, especially in defence, underlining the view of former USA coach Pia Sundhage in an interview earlier this year.