It’s a striking spectacle, the ritual that closes out the pre-match training routine of Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s Germany side. Isolated somewhere near the center circle, the 11 players of the starting lineup jostle and bounce in a fizzing cluster of energy. Suddenly, a coach claps — the signal for the team to spin and sprint toward the tunnel. Joviality turns to ice cold intent on the players’ faces as they charge through the substitutes’ guard of honor and head toward the changing room for the final team talk before kickoff.
Germany’s opponents had already headed inside by the time this display of determination and togetherness was given on Tuesday, but they wouldn’t have to wait long to see those same characteristics in evidence once more. From the first whistle, Israel were pinned back deep into their own half. To a soundtrack of shouts from keeper Merle Frohms, who was often closer to the halfway line than the goal as she conducted her side’s attacks, Germany upheld a barrage of early pressure.
Wastefulness, rather than want of chances, prevented them from taking an immediate lead — early echoes of the attacking troubles that Germany had in the reverse of this World Cup qualifier last week. But after 20 minutes of imprecision in front of goal, an eventual tap in for Jule Brand broke the deadlock, followed quickly by an emphatic second from captain Sara Däbritz. It was clear, from then, that more were on the way.
“It was important that it came off at some point, that we regained the belief that we’re capable of putting the ball in the net, and not just hitting the post or putting it wide,” said Voss-Tecklenburg after the game. “But we knew that the goals would come today.”
Laura Freigang’s third, on 42 minutes, was the first real goalgetters’ effort of the game, a textbook piece of penalty box poaching. Moments after that, Israeli keeper Amit Beilin was dragged out of position by a swarm of German attackers, leaving Brand to slot the ball into an empty net once more.
“I did have the feeling ahead of the game that we’d get more goals today,” said Freigang. “Sometimes you just need that spell-breaker, and once it eventually came, we managed to score a few.”
Unrelenting at the start of the second half, Germany continued to have chance after chance. The pick of the second half goals was number six, an exquisite move that began with an effortless and perfectly weighted through ball from substitute Dzsenifer Marozsan. Linda Dallmann, her run unseen and unobstructed by the Israeli defense, laid off to Tabea Wassmuth, who coolly stroked the ball beyond Beilin and into the bottom corner.
As shade crept up the south-facing Rahn Stand at the Stadion Essen, the supporters gathered there made an appreciative racket with their paper clappers. One couldn’t help but wonder how it might have sounded if they’d been a few more in number. Some 5,000 tickets had gone on sale, yet the eventual attendance totaled a meager 1,814. Perhaps no surprise, given the kickoff time, dictated by broadcasters: 4:05 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon, on the same day as the first games in the second round of the men’s German Cup. It hardly seems like the greatest endorsement of this fixture to supporters.
“It’s a well-known problem with our kickoff times, that not many people can make it,” said Freigang. “But I was totally surprised when I saw the attendance. I thought there were more here, because the atmosphere was brilliant.”
And why wouldn’t it be? After all, those fans who did make it were treated to a 7-0 rout, executed by a side that was back at its clinical best. Two in two against Israel makes it four in four in qualifying, and Germany now sit comfortably atop Group H with 12 points, having scored 20 goals and conceded only one. With renewed confidence and a refreshed killer instinct, Voss-Tecklenburg’s side are cruising toward a spot at the 2023 World Cup.