DFB women against the Netherlands: Olympics or end of work in Heerenveen

As of: February 27, 2024 7:18 p.m

In the Nations League, the DFB women’s team will face the Netherlands in Heerenveen on Wednesday (February 28, 2024, from 8:45 p.m. in the audio live stream at sportschau.de). Only the winners of the game are qualified for the Olympic football tournament. Horst Hrubesch’s team missed their first chance to do so in the 1-2 defeat in France last Friday.

From Inka Blumensaat, Heerenveen

The small town of Heerenveen in Friesland is known for speed skating and regularly hosts world and European championships. In the stadium of the local football club SC, it’s not about medals on the pitch, but it’s still about everything between the Netherlands and Germany – qualification for the Olympic Games in the summer. “We will try to dominate the game again, we want to push through our game and follow through with our clear match plan”said national coach Horst Hrubesch in the press conference before the game.

  • Game for third place
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This was also the clear direction before the game against France last Friday, but Hrubesch’s team failed to implement their planned dominance in the first half in Lyon. After the break, the Germans’ game improved, but in the end they lost 1-2. “We shook ourselves again and then prepared ourselves for the game against the Netherlands. We will put everything together to make it positive”said Hrubesch.

Stronger at home than away

Noticeable in the parts of the Nations League since last autumn: The team’s performance in home games is significantly stronger than away. In December, a convincing win against Denmark in Rostock was followed by an extremely poor 0-0 draw with the bottom of the preliminary group in Wales. “Of course home games feel nicer”says captain Alexandra Popp and adds with regard to the expected number of spectators in the Abe Lenstra Stadium: “But we have to deal with it when 20,000 are against us. That can be pretty cool too.” The national coach adds: “It just has to be fun to keep this stadium quiet.”

Hrubesch invokes the fun factor

The Netherlands have had a disappointing game against Spain: Former Bundesliga coach Andries Jonker’s team lost 3-0 to the world champions in Seville and only had a few chances to score. At the World Cup, the “Oranje” team had at least reached the quarter-finals, while the Germans had to travel home after the preliminary round for the first time at a major tournament. Hrubesch still sees both teams as equals: “The question is: who wants it more and who gets it together better? This is an endgame that you have to accept. And you have to have fun with it. Even if you have to torture yourself and work, the end is also crucial “To have fun with football.”

Most recently successful against the Netherlands

In the most recent encounter between the two teams in a test match in Sittard in April 2023, the German footballers narrowly won with a goal from Sydney Lohmann. The goalkeepers Merle Frohms and Ann-Katrin Berger, each playing half, saved their team from defeat with outstanding saves, as Alexandra Popp remembers: “Anne (Ann-Katrin Berger, the editors) saved our butts, we want to do better this time. We know the speed of the Dutch offensive players and want to counteract that.”

Great importance of the game

After the early exit from the World Cup and the failure of the German teams in the group phase of the Champions League (for which top club VfL Wolfsburg didn’t even qualify), missing the Olympic Games would be another low blow for German football, whose phase of weakness is coming at an inopportune time: women’s football has never been more accepted and popular, and the marketing opportunities for teams and players are constantly increasing. But if there is no sporting success, the basis for all of this would be lost. Captain Popp explains the importance of the game: “We know what it’s about: also about saving your own face. We want to put it on the record. We have to put it on the record.”

Hrubesch announces that he will travel to France as a tourist in the summer if necessary: “It’s on the itinerary either way, but I’d love to do it with the girls.” So does he prefer these “girls” to his wife Angelika? “She would also go to the Olympics. My wife AND the girls, that would be fine.”, he says. Should his team lose against the Netherlands, the national coach would quickly say goodbye: “If we don’t make it, it’ll be the end of the day.”