It's possible: The German national team celebrates the 1-0 win through Klara Bühl
Photo: Federico Gambarini / dpa
Waru's Battle: The lost World Cup dress rehearsal against Zambia, then the preliminary round Down Under, finally the Nations League bankruptcy against Denmark: Germany's footballers have been stumbling from one crisis to the next for months. Almost forgotten is the half week of good mood when Morocco beat 6-0 at the start of the World Cup - and Klara Bühl's self-crocheted koala mascot "Waru" became an Internet hit. In front of an almost sold-out house in Bochum, Waru was to act as a lucky charm one last time before the little animal would find its final resting place in the German Football Museum. Fittingly, it was Bühl himself who scored with two powerful long-range shots first to take the lead, then to the final score against Iceland, thus ensuring that Waru did not have to step down as a harbinger of misfortune.
Result: 4-0 (2-0) defeats the DFB eleven Iceland in front of an official 14,998 fans in Bochum - an important success in the Nations League group three. Germany would have to win it to have a chance of qualifying for the Olympic football tournament in Paris 2024.
Let it rip: "Losing is forbidden. Three points are needed. Scratching, biting, spitting – everything is allowed," said ZDF commentator Claudia Neumann, classifying the German situation as strikingly as possible. In fact, the German team could not be accused of anything in terms of commitment and teamwork. After a header by Jule Brand (11th minute, harmless) and an unfortunate header return by Guðrún Arnardóttir (16th, dangerous), the lead was in the air, Bühl's pound from the edge of the penalty area (19th) removed any residual doubts.
Wing change: National coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg is still missing due to illness. This creates a certain degree of uncertainty in the team, public expressions of loyalty had recently been avoided in view of the mixed situation. This also ensured that assistant coach Britta Carlson was responsible for the choice of personnel. This time, compared to the Denmark game, she made a new line-up of the defensive wings: Sarai Linder moved from right to left, Felicitas Rauch took a seat on the bench, and top performer Giulia Gwinn celebrated a successful starting eleven comeback after her cruciate ligament rupture. The FC Bayern Munich player crowned this with a goal when she took the penalty kick after a foul on Lena Lattwein (32nd).
A silent farewell? Captain Alexandra Popp was left without a goal, but apart from that she still showed a classic Popp game: winning the ball in her own half, a small skirmish with Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir, who let herself be carried away with a yellow penalty. Popp was not too good for anything, after 80 minutes she left the place for Laura Freigang and handed over the captain's armband to Marina Hegering. It is still unclear whether it could have been Popp's last appearance in a DFB jersey – the centre-forward has not yet committed herself to a future beyond the two Nations League games.
It rattles: A team performance without nervousness or carelessness, with strong counter-pressing and 23 goals was finally enough for the German women to win a clear victory against Icelanders, who, however, were hardly suitable as a yardstick. Bühl failed in a one-on-one with the Icelandic goalkeeper (32nd), Glódís Viggósdóttir cleared a header from her former Bayern teammate Hegering on the crossbar (53rd). Then Schüller made it befitting with a header after Bühl's cross from the left (68') and Bühl himself with the second beam from the middle distance (78').
The knot: "Sweet Caroline", clapping fans, a relieved team with Bühl and Gwinn, who said: "I think the knot burst today": It felt a bit like a spirit of optimism in Bochum. But the well-known question marks – the future of Voss-Tecklenburg, the future of Popp, the sustainability of the results – are not disappearing for the moment. In four weeks' time, the Nations League will continue, in Sinsheim against Wales, in Reykjavík against Iceland. By then, at least two of the three questions should have been clarified.