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Jule Brand (r.) still has a chance at the Olympics

Photo: Daniel Cole / AP

The German women's national soccer team lost 1:2 (0:2) against France in the semifinals of the Nations League tournament in Lyon.

With a win, the DFB team would have qualified for the 2024 Olympics, now they have to win in the game for place against the Netherlands next Wednesday.

Kadidiatou Diani (41st minute) and Sakina Karchaoui (45th + 4/penalty) scored for the French, and Giulia Gwinn also shortened the score with a penalty (82nd).

For German football, missing the Olympics again would be the next setback that should actually be avoided at all costs.

The national team was already eliminated in the preliminary round of the 2023 World Cup, and for the first time this season no German team in club football was able to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Left side of defense as a weak point

Immediately before kick-off, captain Alexandra Popp had given the group of players the motto: “We push ourselves in everything we do,” the striker shouted to her teammates.

"Because we need it, for victory, for the dream of the Olympics." However, the motivational speech did not bring the desired success.

France was not worried about missing the Olympic Games in Paris; coach Hervé Renard's team has already qualified.

However, the opportunity to be the first team to win the newly introduced Nations League for women was enough motivation for the French women.

Renard had identified the German left defensive side with full-back Sarai Linder as a weak point; in the initial phase almost every attack went through the strong running Elisa de Almeida.

Germany struggled, even though there were hardly any chances for France to score for a long time.

National coach Horst Hrubesch had decided early on on a 4-4-2 with Popp and Lea Schüller as a double leader.

The offensive plan was clear, Hrubesch wanted to control the game, play out wide and serve his two attackers with crosses.

That failed completely in the first half.

Only Klara Bühl managed to get a shot from the game, but failed to score twice (18th/30th).

Three changes during the break

In addition, individual errors crept in.

When Diani scored from a free-kick cross, the assignment was incorrect; the Olympique Lyon striker scored with an unstoppable shot from 15 meters.

And in stoppage time, Marina Hegering missed the chance to clear a French attack, Lena Oberdorf subsequently came too late against Onema Geyoro and referee Esther Staubli awarded a penalty.

Goalkeeper Merle Frohms was in the right corner, but Karchaoui's penalty was too well placed.

Hrubesch reacted during the break with a triple substitution.

Sydney Lohmann, Jule Brand and Sara Däbritz were new to the team, which also meant a change in system.

From then on, Germany acted with Popp as the sole leader.

In fact, the offensive actions now became more targeted and France, in turn, shifted to counterattacks.

Popp came a little too late after a header from Brand (53rd), the Wolfsburg player also missed the best chance to score with a shot against the crossbar (72nd).

Overall, it was striking how vulnerable French goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin was to high crosses into her penalty area, but the German team didn't take advantage of this fact enough.

There was still tension in the final phase because Amandine Henry had her arm on the ball after a German corner and there was another penalty.

Gwinn converted safely.

The strongest phase in the German game followed, but a free kick from Popp (87th) and a long shot from Brand (90th + 3) did not bring the game into extra time.