England went down 4-0 on Thursday afternoon to a Germany side hoping to bring th
Women's International Friendly
Germany 4-0 England
Darmstadt Stadion am Bollenfalltor, Germany
Thursday 11th September 2003
England went down 4-0 on Thursday afternoon to a Germany side hoping to bring the World Cup back to Europe next month...
While England fielded a side of young, at best semi-professionals, preparing for the European Championship Finals in two years' time, the European champions Germany fielded a side of well-honed, experienced players capable of challenging for the world title.
"It was a difficult game for us," said National Coach Hope Powell. "Germany were just too physical and strong for us to compete equally. This is exactly the sort of game we need to be playing to help us improve and I think this game showed that Germany are going to do well at the World Cup.
"Their team have been preparing for the World Cup in a training camp for the past two months and their fitness and strength gave us a benchmark for what we need to achieve. There are negatives and positives to take out of the game. The positives were a great performance from Leanne Champ and having Katie, Fara and Kelly back in contention. The negatives were a lack of discipline and concentration at times, but we'll work on those for when we play next against Russia next month."
Powell made four changes to the side that beat Australia 1-0 at Burnley FC last week, bringing in goalkeeper Pauline Cope for the injured Rachel Brown, adding Fara Williams and Sue Smith to the midfield and giving Kelly McDougall her first start.
Germany fielded a strong side in their last game before heading to the Women's World Cup later this month. The squad has been in camp together for the past two months, training full-time for four days before being released for club games.
Their cohesion and fitness showed from the start and the home side put Pauline Cope's goal under pressure. The 'keeper stood up well to the early challenges, but it was not long before Germany took the lead. Birgit Prinz, the tall striker who plays for Carolina Courage in the American professional women's league, received a pass on the edge of the area on eight minutes and muscled her way past two defenders before driving the ball under Cope from ten yards.
It was Prinz again who found space behind the England back four on 15 minutes when she doubled the lead. Receiving a throughball behind the defence, Prinz raced clear of the onrushing defenders. Left with just Cope between her and the goal, Cope fell to her knees and Prinz simply took the ball around to her left and drove the ball into the net.
England looked to attack and forced a corner, but without posing any real threat to the efficient Germany defence. But it was the Germans who constantly looked dangerous every time they pressed forward and they were rewarded for their efforts again on 35 minutes. Bettina Wiegmann found space to shoot from a tight angle on the right touchline and Leanne Champ through her body in front to block it. But the referee adjudged Champ to have used a handball and cautioned her, while awarding the hosts a penalty. Renate Lingor stepped up and sent Cope the wrong way to make it 3-0 on 34 minutes.
Germany had two more chances before the end of the half, with Maren Meinert shooting wide of the left-hand post and Cope saved a shot from Wiegmann before the break afforded Powell the chance of a teamtalk.
Germany started off strongly again after the break, and on 54 minutes Prinz nearly sealed her hat-trick when Cope spilled the Germany striker's drive across the goal which agonisingly crossed the face of goal and went out for a corner kick.
Cope had to be on good form to keep out further efforts, notably parrying a Maren Meinert 25-yard shot and making a superb one-handed save again from Prinz.
Germany made several changes which subdued the game for a period, but Meinert finally made the breakthrough she had been chasing on 73 minutes when she made the most of an inswinging free-kick to net Germany's fourth from close range.
The introduction of Kelly Smith a minute earlier gave England added confidence and she started off some good attacking play, although it didn't lead to any threat to the home side's goal. England's best chance of the game fell to substitute Vicky Exley, on for Fara Williams, whose powerful 25-yard shot went just over the bar on 85 minutes.
Silke Rottenberg, Kerstin Rottenberg, Ariane Hingst (sub 65 mins Nia Kunzer), Sandra Minnert, Steffi Jones (sub 65 mins Pia Wunderlich), Renate Lingor (sub 65 mins Stephanie Gottschlich), Linda Bresonik (sub 33 mins Sonja Fuss), Maren Meinert (sub 74 mins Pohlers), Kerstin Garefrekes (sub 65 mins Sandra Smisek), Bettina Wiegman, Birgit Prinz (sub 74 mins Martina Muller)
Pauline Cope, Leanne Champ, Casey Stoney, Mary Phillip (c), Rachel Unitt (sub 88 mins Corinne Yorston), Rachel Yankey, Fara Williams (sub 82 mins Vicky Exley), Katie Chapman, Kelly McDougall (sub 72 mins Kelly Smith), Sue Smith (sub 62 mins Karen Burke), Carmaine Walker (sub 81 mins Amanda Barr)
Booked: Rachel Yankey 30, Leanne Champ 34