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It’s All Set Up For Germany To Reclaim World Cup Glory

Carolin Simon of Germany, Klara Buehl of Germany and Alexandra Popp of Germany look on during the Women's international friendly between Germany and Zambia at Sportpark Ronhof Thomas Sommer on July 7, 2023 in Fuerth, Germany.
Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

It’s almost time for the 2023 World Cup. To help get you ready, we will be providing you with precious information about every team in the tournament. You can read all of our team previews here.

If it is agreed that the Americans have the most complete side in this tournament (and it is, given that most of the resource materials say so, and who doesn't trust the internet these days?), the question of who can give them the biggest scare is an open one, which means the Germans and British will fight it out to see who the most difficult opponent will be. And that assumes that neither of the two blob out early to live underdogs like the Canadians or the French.

That's the problem with the development of the women's game—it isn't as easy for the bullies to advance as it used to be. And the Germans have always been an elite side, so they don't have a compelling argument against advancing, at least not yet.

In fact, since bowing out in the 2019 World Cup quarterfinals to eventual third-place finisher Sweden, the Germans have gotten slowly but demonstrably better, peaking in the 2022 Euros where they lost in extra time to the the host Brits, which is why they are rated no worse than third in this competition by most analysts, and second by many. And while the Brits have been scuffed about by injuries to key players, the Germans will be without only midfielders Giulia Gwinn (knee), Linda Dallmann (ankle) and Dszenifer Maroszan (retirement from international play due to accumulated injuries). Since all are being replaced by provably capable players, the loss to the German side may be less than to, say, England.

Also, unlike many of their contemporaries, the Germans are both solid and deep in goal, where Merle Frohms was the automatic selection through most of the qualifying round and Ann-Katrin Berger started 15 games last season for WSL champions Chelsea. Part of their safety here may be due to coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's devotion to the high press that marks Germany's high possession and territorial advantages.

Finally, their group is not as daunting as most of the others. South Korea looks intriguing but has not matched promise to proof, Colombia has never cracked the FIFA Top 20 and has reached the round of 16 only once, and Morocco has never qualified before and is hoping mostly to defy form as their brethren did a year ago. Germany's work begins with the round of 16 starter, most likely against either Brazil or France, and then if that hurdle is cleared then either England or Denmark in the quarters. But it's supposed to be difficult at some point, no?

Players like Lena Oberdorf, Lea Schüller, Alexandra Popp, and Jule Brand are all expected to play key roles. Germany will be hungry and vying to make a mark at the tournament.

Who Is Their Star?

"Star" is a funny word because one can still be the star of a team without being its most dynamic player currently, in which case the German star is captain and striker Alexandra Popp, who has indeed been said star for most of the last decade. Her 61 goals and 127 caps have made her the magnet for the German attack since 2011.

Popp plays her club soccer for German giants Wolfsburg, where she's still a dominant force at age 31. She scored 16 goals in 21 league matches last season, and added three more in 10 Champions League games. On a team loaded with dynamic young players, she maintains the talent, brain, and resume to qualify as "star," no matter what your opinion may be of her younger teammates.

Tell Me About A Cool Youngster

Defensive midfielder Lena Oberdorf is the side's pre-eminent dealmaker on a team that was considered between generations a year ago. Oberdorf, at age 21, is already four years into her international career and has been a steady presence in the Frauen-Bundesliga since she was 16. She's spent the last three seasons playing with Popp on Wolfsburg, and finished fourth in the Ballon d'Or voting a year ago because she feeds the highlight monster with stuff like this:

But if you revolting pedants think she's too experienced to be a youngster (she is undeniably cool), you can also consider wingers Klara Bühl and Jule Brand, 22 and 20 respectively.

Who Is Their Enemy?

Historically, their only friends may be historical documentarians, and we are loath to tell other people how long to cling to their ancestors' grudges. Do what you must with your memories. Football-wise, the Germans are more respected and feared than overtly hated, as opposed to the Americans, who may be all three because they've won more recently. Hey, this stuff cuts all ways.

National Folk Hero Who I Think Is Cool

What care I? I'd pick comedian Henning Wehn, but I don't know if he's a folk hero in Germany. Besides, if you look up German folk heroes, you get thousands of characters, most of whom stuck swords in other people during the 12th century with operatic background music, and while I'm fine with impaling unpleasant, frightening, or just random people who inspire dislike, I'm a hard pass on most ... well, let's call it music for lack of a better term.

Scran Or Not Scran: National Dish Edition

We took suggestions here just because picking out someone else's food always works out well, and when we say always, we mean never. Thus, when Comrade Segel pointed out that white asparagus is something of a staple in the German diet, all we could think of was "In what squalid hostels?" Frankly, scran should rarely stray far beyond the lächerlich lange Wurst auf einem wahllosen Stück Brot (ridiculously long sausage on some indiscriminate hunk of bread) format because of the ease of handling. Since the Germans can make sausages out of anything from antlers to dress shoes, go bold and either eat one of all 1,200 varieties, or whip up some currywurst (bratwurst that’s first boiled, then fried, and finally doused in a sauce of tomatoes and Worcestershire and dusted with curry powder) and either drop it into a steroidal baguette or surround it with hot sauced garlic fries for the kind of breath that would make an ox recite the alphabet.

What Would A Successful World Cup Look Like For This Team?

Winning it. The Germans won successive World Cups in 2003 and 2007, but haven't been to a final since, and the 2019 team was the first not to lose to the eventual winner. But with enough youth to keep the veterans from breaking down and enough veterans to keep the youth from wandering into the woods, the Germans might be the best bettors' alternative to the U.S. if you don't like playing the chalk. The group is sufficiently navigable that a deep run seems like a minimal achievement, and the history says that they would like to avoid the slow and painful aging that undid the men's team.

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