- Japan will be a different kind of test for Germany
- Positive atmosphere in the team key to success
- "The tension slowly eats away at you"
It is difficult not to make a play on words when you see Giulia Gwinn’s name – particularly when it hits the nail on the head. The midfielder is definitely a ‘win’ for Germany’s U-20 women’s national team. Her performances on the pitch have been impressive, earning her the Player of the Match award in their opening game.
"Of course, it’s great to start the tournament with an award like that," the Germany No.7 explained in an interview with FIFA.com. "It gives you confidence too. I think I’ve got relatively good technique, which I combine with my ability to read the game to distribute the ball well. I hope I can continue to help the team that way."
This confidence is reflected on the pitch. As the only nation at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 to win all three of their group matches, Germany will go into their quarter-final against Japan on Friday with their heads held high. The secret of their success is the positive atmosphere within the camp. "The fact that we get on so well off the pitch too does us good," Gwinn said. "There aren’t any cliques within our squad. You can tell on the pitch that we blend together well and it just works. We can take that good feeling on to the pitch with us."
While this will certainly provide them with a solid platform for Friday’s last-eight encounter, the Freiburg midfielder knows that the match against the Young Nadeshiko will be a whole new kind of test for Germany. Their three group stage wins no longer matter.
"The tension slowly eats away at you," the 19-year-old explained. "You just want to get out there and play the game. Playing against Japan gives us double the motivation because they’re just such a great footballing nation."
Gwinn is under no illusions about what awaits her and her team-mates. "We’re expecting very technically strong opponents, who can link up well. We need to be on our guard at all times and be ready from the start. We need to give more than 100 per cent again to ensure that we can take control of the match and win it."
Germany’s young starlets have history on their side. The two teams have met in this competition on three previous occasions, two of them in the knockout stages, with the Germans winning both of those two contests. When asked why her side could repeat this feat again on Friday, Gwinn responded: “Because we want it badly enough. Because we want to reach the semi-finals no matter what. Because we’re so fired up for this match and we know that we can win it, if we play to our strengths."