Silke Rottenberg won the UEFA European Women's Championship three times as part of a Germany side which helped establish her nation's stranglehold on the women's game – but she feels their grip on the title may be under threat. Speaking to UEFA.com, the former goalkeeper explained that her country are no longer head and shoulders above the rest of the continent.
Germany have tasted triumph in all but one UEFA Women's EURO since 1989. However, Rottenberg – who played 126 times for Germany in a trophy-laden career and is now a media pundit – said her country's goalless draw with the Netherlands showed that Silvia Neid's squad face a stiff challenge to win a sixth successive title in Sweden.
UEFA.com: Germany were unable to win their opening game. Was the goalless draw with the Netherlands a surprise result?
Silke Rottenberg: It was already clear before kick-off that the Netherlands were not going to be an easy team to beat, and that they're a team that's developed their playing culture in recent years. They made life difficult for the German team, which was unable to find a way to break them down. The point was deserved for the Dutch, even though Germany had imagined they would start with a win. You also saw that the Dutch came more into the game in the second half through some careless passing from the German team.
UEFA.com: What were the reasons behind Germany's inability to win the match?
Rottenberg: Every player wanted to do something special, and after that they lost their cool a little. By giving the ball away on a couple of occasions, this young, inexperienced team began to doubt. Many players were playing in their first European Championship game at senior level. In the game against Iceland, the players have to really show what they're capable of. There are not as many leaders on the pitch as there were in the past. The players have great talent – they're two-footed, technically gifted, creative – but in the game against the Netherlands, they lacked experience on a number of occasions.
UEFA.com: For that reason, captain Nadine Angerer was all the more important in goal.
Rottenberg: I'm especially happy for her that she could show that she's in great shape and can still be relied upon. She knows herself that, having shot to prominence at the World Cup in 2007, her form stagnated and it led to weaker performances. There were also one or two injuries, but she's worked hard to get back to her best. You saw in the first game how important a goalkeeper is when things aren't working well in the team.
UEFA.com: How far can this German team go in this tournament?
Rottenberg: It would be presumptuous to be already dreaming about touching the stars before the second step has even been made. Therefore, they have to seriously focus on their next opponents and then play Norway and see where they stand at the end of the group phase. The quarter-final will be the decisive game. Even though you didn't see it against the Netherlands, this German team is capable of anything; they only have to exploit their potential.
UEFA.com: What is your opinion on the games that have been played so far?
Rottenberg: The first few games have taught us that the teams in this tournament are all well-matched and that anyone can beat anyone. That's positive for women's football. You can see that it's developed and that the other countries haven't been sleeping. Each team has quality, and you can't underestimate any of the 12 teams. It's going to be exciting, and you now have to include the Netherlands and Denmark among the favourites.
UEFA.com: How do you think the UEFA European Women's Championship has developed since you stopped playing?
Rottenberg: The play is much quicker, with more ideas and tactically it's better too. The young players are technically gifted and the speed at which they play has increased both up front and at the back. The goalkeeping needs to develop the most, and even if in this area things are being done, not enough attention was paid to it in the past. Since 2007 in Germany, we're on the right track.
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