Germany celebrate landmark 500th game in style
Friday, July 8, 2022
The eight-time European champions brought up a big figure when they started their UEFA Women's EURO bid in brilliant fashion against Denmark, raising hopes they can repeat past successes.
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More than just the start of their bid to win a ninth UEFA Women's EURO title, Friday's Group B triumph over Denmark was also a landmark moment for Germany – their 500th outing in an official match.
In the four decades since their first game in November 1982, a 5-1 win against Switzerland as West Germany, they have become one of the most successful nations in women's football. Despite the German Football Association (DFB) only lifting its ban on the women's game in 1970, the team's trophy cabinet now includes every major title going: two FIFA Women's World Cups, eight European Championships and Olympic gold.
Only two sides have ever clinched back-to-back titles at the Women's World Cup: Germany (2003, 2007) and the United States (2015, 2019). No team is close to equalling the DFB-Frauen's haul of eight European crowns, including a 22-year stranglehold on the trophy, during which they triumphed an astounding six times in a row. And after taking bronze in three straight Olympics from 2000 to 2008, Germany finally got their hands on an elusive gold medal in 2016.
"So much has happened in these 40 years," former Germany coach Tina Theune explained to the DFB's website recently. "My favourite memory is that of our first European Championship in 1989 … Our 4-1 win in the final against Norway took place at a sold-out stadium in Osnabrück, accompanied by a Mexican wave for 90 minutes. We couldn't hear a single word being said during our half-time talk … That was a real breakthrough moment."
Following their impressive dismantling of Denmark, Germany have won 351 of their 500 games, with 65 draws and 84 defeats. On top of that, no other nation has produced more winning teams in the UEFA Women's Champions League or predecessor UEFA Women's Cup (nine). "That's an outstanding record," added Silvia Neid, Germany coach from 2005 to 2016 and also a player in that very first international against Switzerland. "Our development since then has been fantastic, but we cannot rest on our laurels."
Indeed, Germany were deposed as European champions by Denmark in 2017 and their last major trophy now dates back six years. Many neutrals expect that fallow period to continue in England, but even before Friday Neid believed Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's squad were ready to challenge for honours once again: "In my opinion, we are one of the favourites to win the tournament. We can go very far. I really believe that because we have many exceptionally talented players who play with a lot of joy. We also have a very deep squad to choose from."
Their opening game of Women's EURO 2022 did nothing to temper that optimism; quite the opposite.