A goalless draw with the Netherlands was not exactly the start that the reigning champions had dreamed of making to their title defence at UEFA Women's EURO 2013. The nerves felt by many of Germany's younger players as they made their bow at this level made for a jittery night, but centre-back Annike Krahn is confident that she and her team-mates will re-emerge with a markedly improved performance against Iceland on Sunday.
"It's always difficult in such an opening game," said the Paris Saint-Germain FC defender, whose injury-peppered build-up to the tournament helped explain her own off-colour display. "You have to fight to get into the game, but the first game is out of my mind now and I want to do things better in the second match. It's no good thinking too much about the opening game. Our aim now is quite clearly the three points."
History is certainly weighted heavily in Krahn's favour. Germany have won all 12 of their previous meetings with Iceland – their best record against any nation – and racked up 19 unanswered goals in their five competitive encounters. However, Sigurdur Eyjolfsson's side showed their determined streak as they claimed their first ever UEFA European Women's Championship point by holding Norway to a 1-1 draw thanks to a late penalty from Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir, who now has 70 goals in 89 international appearances.
"I played with her in Duisburg for a short while," explained Krahn, who featured alongside the now Kristianstads DFF forward during the latter's brief spell in western Germany in the 2006/07 campaign. "I know that she's the star of the Iceland team. She's very dangerous in front of goal, and has really brought her game on. I'm excited to be playing against her."
Like Vidarsdóttir, Krahn too has moved on after an eight-year spell in the colours of FCR 2001 Duisburg, with whom she triumphed in the 2008/09 UEFA Women's Champions League. The lure of a two-year contract with ambitious PSG proved too tempting for the 28-year-old, who bolstered her CV by helping her new club finish runners-up to Olympique Lyonnais in the French league last season.
"The move to France has improved me in many ways. It was good to have a change of scenery – to get to know a different culture improves you personally," said Krahn, who is looking forward to having the support of the injured Kim Kulig, one of a sextet of key players missing from Silvia Neid's squad, for the Iceland match.
"As I share a room with her normally, it's especially great that she's coming to support us for the second game. The team's happy Kim is here, but we've also had a lot of good wishes from the other injured players."
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