England's tormentor Eunice Beckmann says watching Zinédine Zidane and Jay-Jay Okocha has given her a taste for the unexpected – injury-hit Germany's semi-final rivals France be warned.
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Eunice Beckmann has not been immune to the state of flux that has gripped the Germany camp over the past couple of days but insists she is "looking forward, not back".
The emotions have flowed one way and then the other for Germany over the last 48 hours: the joy of reaching the last four with a 100% record after beating holders England 2-1 overshadowed by the sight of Hasret Kayikci and Laura Vetterlein leaving in an ambulance with knee injuries; and the sadness of the pair now on crutches, their tournaments over, contrasting with the sense of opportunity for their replacements, Sara Doorsoun-Khajeh and the uncapped Angelina Lübcke.
"The mood is OK and we were happy to beat England, but it's a real shame we had two players so badly injured that they had to be replaced," said Beckmann. "We'll miss them a lot. Hasret had a very good start to the tournament, so she's a massive loss. It's hard on Laura – she missed the first two games through injury before finally making it for the third match. And now another knock ... "
But focusing on the positives: at times on Sunday, especially during the first half, Beckmann had the England back line in a trance. Endlessly finding space she would lure one defender, forcing them to break ranks, before sliding an inviting pass forward to Nicole Rolser. Too tempting, perhaps, as time and again the over-eager forward attracted an offside flag. By the interval it could have been 4-1: the England rearguard knew what was coming; they were just powerless to prevent it.
That conjurors' trick was Zinédine Zidane's stock in trade, and like any good playmaker – if not always one so young – Beckmann singles out the former French international as her idol. "There is simply no better player;
I still enjoy attempting to copy Zidane, his passes, his skill. I used to love watching Jay-Jay Okocha, too, and his tricks. I like to remember one goal he scored against Oliver Kahn," she added, struggling to suppress her smile.
The goal in question, for Eintracht Frankfurt against Karlsruher SC in 1993 – Beckmann was one at the time – was a masterclass in skilful mischievousness. Collecting the ball ten metres out with Kahn in close quarters, Okocha jinked one way and the other to leave the goalkeeper stumbling, then performed a similar shimmy to outfox three defenders before firing across the now recovered Kahn and into the far corner.
Such risky impishness may not be overly appreciated by Germany coach Maren Meinert if a repeat is attempted here, but she and her backroom staff can have few complaints about Beckmann so far. "I've been satisfied with my own performance, but you can always do better, starting in the next match because we want to reach the final," said the youngster, who will join Frauen Bundesliga newcomers Bayer 04 Leverkusen this summer. "
It would be the perfect end to the season if we could go all the way."