- Germany face Republic of Ireland and Montenegro in EURO qualifying
- Top spot at stake in match against the Irish
- Goalkeeper Merle Frohms: "We’ll have to give it absolutely everything"
When Germany take on Republic of Ireland in UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 qualifying on Saturday, it will be exactly 196 days since their last outing on the international stage. That fixture, on 7 March 2020, was a 4-0 win over Norway in the Algarve Cup.
Now, 28 weeks later, top spot in their European Championship qualifying group is on the line against Ireland. Yet it is not Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side who are currently in pole position; instead it is that of her counterpart in the Ireland hotseat, Vera Pauw.
“It will definitely be a challenge,” said Merle Frohms in an interview with FIFA.com. “We’re going up against a strong opponent who can justifiably play with self-confidence. We’ll have to give it absolutely everything we’ve got against them, but I think that if we’re concentrated and focused then we can dominate and show right from the off that we’re better prepared. We won’t give them anything.”
One player will be more determined than most not to let Ireland in: Germany’s No1 goalkeeper. The team have won all four of their qualifying matches so far, scoring 31 goals without conceding. It is a record that not only speaks to the Germans' attacking might, but also underlines just how good their goalkeepers are.
“We’re definitely very well equipped in that area, and also in terms of training and the general goalkeeping concept,” said the 25-year-old, who moved to Eintracht Frankfurt at the start of this season. “We’re the trailblazers, to put it simply. I don’t think any other country has such a detailed and football-focused approach.”
Frohms represented Germany at every age category from the U-15s to the U-20s before making her senior international debut in a friendly against Austria in October 2018. She has now made ten appearances for her country and her outstanding display in the 2-1 win over England at Wembley was just one of many.
“It used to be about ‘who’s the craziest?’ or ‘who hogs the limelight the most?’ She’d be the one put in goal,” said Frohms, laughing. “Whoever was the most eccentric person would have to go between the posts and dive about stopping balls. It’s not a bad thing for a goalkeeper to have that attitude or character.”
Still, she stressed that goalkeeper training has changed over the course of the years: “There’s definitely a greater emphasis on technique. We have to be able to play football as well as an outfield player. It’s recommended that we play as outfield players for as long as we can at youth level because there’s so much you can pick up from that. You learn to read the game and to anticipate moves. With us, attacks start at the back.
"If we start the build-up well, we can get really far forward in just two or three moves and then score. We're now a long way away from just being required to stay back on our line and stop shots. It’s very much the opposite now. Most of our involvement in the game is with our feet, or before it even comes to that by coaching our defence. We need to understand the game in order to do that, and by doing so we can prevent situations developing towards our goal.”
Such details are precisely what set good goalkeepers apart and for Frohms they represent the epitome of modern goalkeeping. Playing in an attack-minded and courageous manner are as much a part of that as communicating valuable tips to the defence in order to keep the opposition as far away as possible from the penalty area. Germany are hoping this very approach, coupled with the fact the team has changed since the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019™, will help them overcome Ireland.
“We had a lot of young players at the World Cup who, in terms of quality, were at a very high level and were ready to play at the competition,” she said. “But maybe they hadn’t quite found their role in the team on a personal level yet. We’ve really moved on from there now and have a lot of players able to lead out on the pitch who have obviously grown in confidence and experience.”
Everything is in place, then, for Germany to carry on where they left off in their previous qualifying games.