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Angerer hopes home comforts spur on Germany

Nadine Angerer hopes Germany's return to cosy Vaxjo, the scene of their best display to date, will mean normal service is resumed for the reigning champions.

Nadine Angerer (right) celebrates Germany's Vaxjo win against Iceland
Nadine Angerer (right) celebrates Germany's Vaxjo win against Iceland ©Getty Images

The plan was to win Group B and stay in Kalmar, but Germany's historic 1-0 defeat to Norway in their final group game meant a return for Silvia Neid's squad to Vaxjo, their home-from-home for their first two UEFA Women's EURO 2013 encounters.

It could be written off as positive spin on a first UEFA European Women's Championship loss in 17 years, but Nadine Angerer certainly seemed content enough as the veteran goalkeeper settled back into familiar surroundings ahead of Sunday's quarter-final with Italy. "The town is a little closer and there's my favourite cafe," she said. "Also the stadium seems to suit us, we haven't lost there and produced a super display against Iceland there."

That 3-0 victory, in their second outing, was the sort of dominant performance the reigning champions were expected to produce throughout this tournament, into which they came as favourites to pick up the title and a sixth successive continental crown.

Instead, the performance at the Växjö Arena has surprisingly proven an anomaly, a brief glimpse at the magnificent potential of this Germany squad, held goalless by both the Netherlands and Norway for the meagre reward of just a point. The quest for an explanation is not merely confined to the column inches of Germany's press, whose significant presence in Sweden indicates not only the interest but also the expectation of a nation used to victory in women's football.

"The experienced players are now being asked about things. It's obvious that we're going to offer up our experience, that's important, and it will be taken on board," stated the 34-year-old Angerer, whose age and 121 caps make her the elder stateswoman of a squad deprived of some six key members due to injury.

"We've spoken a lot to each other and came to the conclusion that we were very unfocussed against Norway and each player was only thinking about themselves. As a result, there were many mistakes made and we weren't able to link up well. We're going to approach the game against Italy differently."

The knowledge that a plane home, and not merely a public and private inquisition, will follow the final whistle if the game goes against them in Vaxjo on Sunday should be sufficient to bring the task in hand sharply into focus.

A loss would mark the first time Germany have not won the title since a side featuring Neid and team manager Doris Fitschen was beaten by Italy on penalties in the semi-finals of the 1993 edition. On Friday, the squad endured two training sessions in a day for the first time since before the tournament started, perhaps a sign of recognition that bodies and minds needed re-sharpening.

Given she was among the starting XI given a scare by Italy at the quarter-final stage in 2009, Angerer, who could just as easily have found herself in Azzure colours courtesy of her Italian father, needed no such jogging of her memory.

"The Italians won't give us a millimetre. We only got through by the skin of our teeth four years ago," said the soon-to-be last line of defence with Australian outfit Brisbane Roar before then heading to the United States come 2014. "We're not going to go through if we play like we did against Norway. We have to fight for it, otherwise we're going to get tripped up."

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