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Germany seeking answers after historic defeat

After tasting defeat in a UEFA Women's EURO game for the first time in 17 years, reigning champions Germany have quickly set about finding solutions to their dip in form.

Defeat by Norway left the Germany squad puzzled
Defeat by Norway left the Germany squad puzzled ©Getty Images

Swedish tourists and even the nation's king visit Oland to seek sand, sea and above all the calm afforded by this wooded paradise bathing in the Baltic Sea, north-east of Kalmar.

The tranquility of their team hotel on the island perhaps explains why no one within the Germany squad was panicking following Wednesday's defeat by Norway, their first reverse in a UEFA European Women's Championship fixture since succumbing to the same opponents in a 1996 qualifier.

While the mood is perhaps not quite as bright as the sunshine streaming in through the window of their cosy temporary home, a desire to remedy the ills of their historic loss at the Kalmar Arena is foremost in their minds.

"We have to question ourselves, because the criticism is justified. There were too many losses of concentration and possession, and not enough readiness to run. The answers as to why are still unknown to us," said defender Annike Krahn, sitting alongside forward Célia Okoyino da Mbabi, whose frank analysis from the opposite end of the pitch bore similar traits. "As a team, we weren't focused enough and made too many mistakes. I don't have any explanation for that."

More than the defeat, Germany drawing a blank for the second time in three group games is perhaps of greater concern. Formidably prolific in qualifying, only against Iceland did Silvia Neid's squad recapture the potency which brought them 64 goals en route to the finals.

"That's what we were missing a little," said Okoyino da Mbabi, whose double against Iceland took her competition tally to a record 19. "Against the Netherlands, we didn't shoot enough and it was similar yesterday. Our aim is to create goalscoring opportunities against all teams and take them."

The title holders will hope to follow that maxim to the letter when they return to the Växjö Arena to play Italy in Sunday's quarter-final. The game is a carbon-copy of their last-eight meeting in Finland four years ago, when Inka Grings scored twice to edge the eventual champions towards a fifth successive title. Patrizia Panico's goal 27 minutes from time made it a bumpy ride to the full-time whistle, though, and Okoyino da Mbabi expects progress will not be acquired any more smoothly this time.

"It's going to be a tough game. Already four years ago it was a close-run thing," the 1. FFC Frankfurt forward said. "We have to be ready for a real fight, because the Italians are aggressive and close opponents down quickly. We mustn't let that get to us." Krahn was more upbeat, adding: "We want to go into the semi-finals and if we play as well as we can, Italy will find it hard to beat us."