"Our team spirit has put us through to the final," said Germany defender Saskia Bartusiak, who believes Silvia Neid's side are hitting peak form at just the right time.
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Germany have reached their sixth consecutive UEFA Women's EURO final and central defender Saskia Bartusiak has a huge impact on Germany’s bid for another European title.
Just one in their five games in Sweden have Germany conceded, a deflected shot from Norway's Ingvild Isaksen in a 1-0 defeat by Sunday's opponents, at which stage both eventual finalist were already through from Group B. And even the highly praised Swedish forward line, who had scored 13 goals in in four games prior to the semi-finals, could not break through the Germany defence in Gotheburg.
The combination of the experienced Bartusiak and Annike Krahn in the centre with the young, dynamic full-backs Leonie Maier and Jennifer Cramer and renowned goalkeeper Nadine Angerer held out superbly against a home side many saw as favourites. "Sweden put a lot of pressure on us, especially in the second half, it was a very intense game," said Bartusiak, who shut out likely adidas Golden Boot winner Lotta Schelin.
"There are always ups and downs, but the key is to be at ones best at the right time," Bartusiak went on. "That is essential in a tournament and we managed this quite well, not only in defence, but as a team in general."
More than eight million people followed the game in Germany on live television. Bartusiak said: "We are excited about the huge interest in Germany, the market share [29.9%] was incredible."
Bartusiak was also happy to receive the Player of the Match award against Sweden. "I was really pleased with it and I am happy that my team-mates told me that I had deserved it, it shows that our team has a lot of character. But even more important is that we showed a convincing performance as a team and our team spirit has put us through to the final."
A team spirit that is also expressed through a wristband labelled 'Laganda 008', Laganda as the Swedish word for team spirit and 008 for a possible eighth European title, which is worn not only by the players, but everyone involved in the staff. "This wristband has brought us together and within the tournament we filled it with life," Bartusiak explains.