- Stefanie Sanders is one of Germany's most experienced players
- Lena Oberdorf is the youngest member of the squad
- Coach Maren Meinert seems to have found the right blend of youth and experience
A strong team dynamic, buoyant atmosphere and excitement about the games ahead is the perfect combination for making a winning start to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 – as Germany demonstrated with victory over Nigeria in their opening match. "The team worked very well together,” winning goalscorer Stefanie Sanders told FIFA.com. “We were solid in defence and won a lot of balls. We can still work on our attack, and need to improve the last pass in particular, but the team’s performance was generally very strong."
As one of five players to reach the quarter-finals in Papua New Guinea two years ago, Sanders is one of the most experienced members of Germany’s squad – and she is well aware of the special role she plays. "I think I’m a leader on the pitch," she explained. "All of us older players are leaders. There isn’t one person who does everything and leads the team. We’re a group and we all work together to guide the younger players."
One of those benefiting from this leadership is 16-year-old Lena Oberdorf, who is the ‘baby’ of the team. "Being here means so much to each and every one of us, and it’s a wonderful experience,” the rising star told FIFA.com. “As the youngest member of the squad, it perhaps means even more to me.
"Laura Freigang comes up to me quite often to give me tips, or to say: ‘Go for it,’” the midfielder continues. “Rather than saying something like: ‘Play the ball to me this way or that,’ she tells me: ‘Just do your thing.’ But sometimes after the game she’ll say: ‘I was standing there and there. Have a look and see whether you can pass to me next time, and then maybe we can play a one-two,’” she adds with a grin.
It seems that head coach Maren Meinert has found exactly the right blend of youth and experience before adding a hefty dash of enthusiasm. The stage appears to be set for another successful outing from Germany against China PR in their next match.