The men’s finals are just days away, but the FIFA Women’s World Cup is in the second round of its qualifying stages, and the competition is heating up in Europe. Several European teams, including Spain, England, and France, are just a game or two from automatic qualification, but so far Germany is sitting on top of the European qualifying competition for the Women’s World Cup next year.
The German women’s soccer team is first in Group 1, and, at 24, has amassed twice as many points as the second place team, Russia. Germany has more wins for the qualifying round than any other European team, although they have played more games than most and are not the only team in European qualifying to have won all of their games so far—France, Scotland, Sweden, Norway, England, and Finland are also at 100 percent. Spain is undefeated over eight games, but drew with Italy on May 4 of this year, marring their record slightly. Germany also has the best goal differential of the Europeans with 56 goals for and only three goals against.
Germany played its first official international game on November 10, 1982 against Switzerland, ending in a 5-1 win for the Germans. The team had only just been created earlier that year, after German soccer suffered a slight embarrassment when they had to turn down an invitation to the unofficial Women’s World Cup in 1981 because Germany had no women’s international team. Since then, the team has played 395 international games with 275 wins and over 1100 goals scored. Only one team has bested Germany in the majority of their matchups—the United States. At least 29 countries—including Canada, Spain, England and Mexico—have never beaten Germany in World Cup play, some in more than 10 meetings.
Germany’s most recent match resulted in a 9-1 win over Slovakia on May 8. The Germans went up 5-0 in the first half, and netted four more in the second half. Midfielder Fatmire Alushi scored a hat trick, striker Anja Mittag had two goals, and four other Germans put the ball past Slovakian goalkeeper Lucia El-Dahaibiová.
Veteran goalkeeper Nadine Angerer has the most appearances for the current German squad with 131 and plays for the Portland Thorns Football Club, who were America’s National Women’s Soccer League Champions for 2013. Angerer played for the 2003 and 2007 Champion German squads. On the other end of the spectrum, newcomer Kathrin Hendrich made her World Cup debut on March 5 against Iceland, a match the Germans won 5-0. Hendrich currently plays defense for Bayer 04 Leverkusen, but recently made the decision to move to first FFC Frankfurt when her contract expires on June 30.
Striker Celia Sasic is the goal leader for the current squad with 50 international goals in 94 appearances. She debuted with the German side in January 2005 against Australia. The Germans lost 0-1 on a goal scored by Aussie striker Lisa De Vanna. Sasic plays for First FFC Frankfurt and was a member of the 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist German side.
Germany will play a friendly with Canada, against whom they are undefeated, on June 19. In September, the German squad returns to FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying matches with games against Russia and the Republic of Ireland. Russia is the only team in Group 1 that has ever beaten the German side, and only twice in 15 matchups. Ranked at number two by FIFA behind the United States, Germany will certainly be a major player in next year’s Women’s World Cup.
Commentary by Christina Jones