XI WoSo Moments of 2016: Germany grabs elusive Olympic gold

Kieran Theivam December 26, 2016 55
Known as one of the best dressed coaches in the women's game, Sylvia Neid can coach too, and her career ended with a gold medal. (Getty Images)

Known as one of the best dressed coaches in the women’s game, Sylvia Neid can coach too, and her career ended with a gold medal. (Getty Images)

When Germany overcame Sweden in the Rio Olympics Gold Medal Match, it was as much a victory for departing Head Coach, Silvia Neid, as it was for the nation and its fans.

You could say it was almost fate that Neid, one of the most respected and coveted coaches in the history of women’s soccer, would walk away with a gold medal around her neck in her final match as coach of a Germany side who had only a year earlier come away with nothing, after losing the third-place playoff match at the World Cup in Canada to England.

Victory meant a first medal for the Germans outside of the European Championships since they won bronze in Beijing in 2008, having fallen at the quarterfinal stage at the 2011 World Cup, which meant they also failed to qualify for the Olympics in London the following year. Add the fourth placed finish in Canada, and Germany’s dominance of the European Championships was not being transferred to the world stage.

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Despite being one of the favorites for Olympic Gold, it didn’t look like they would be ending that run early on, despite a 6-1 win over Zimbabwe – a match overshadowed by some less than savory challenges by the Africans including one that led to a tournament-ending injury to influential midfielder, Simone Laudehr.

This was followed by a 2-2 draw against the Matildas of Australia, who went 2-0 up through Samantha Kerr and Caitlin Foord, only for Sara Däbritz and Saskia Bartusiak to level. To say the Germans got out of jail would be an understatement.

The shoe was on the other foot in the final group match against Canada, who were able to cancel out Melanie Behringer’s early penalty following a double from veteran forward Melissa Tancredi. This meant the Germans would limp into the knockout phase with just one win from their three matches.

By the time the quarterfinal match with China arrived, Germany, and the world, knew that there would be a new gold medalist in Brazil, with the United States having been knocked out earlier in the day on penalty-kicks by eventual runners-up, Sweden. Glove changes and harsh words at full-time from Hope Solo dominated the headlines in the aftermath, but that’s not the focus of this article.

Another Melanie Behringer strike, her fourth of the tournament, was enough to overcome a stubborn China defense, sending Silvia Neid’s team into the semifinal, and a repeat match-up from the group stages against Canada.

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Despite having one of the most well balanced sides in the competition with youngsters like Jessie Fleming and Janine Beckie, one of the standouts in the tournament, complimenting the experience of Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt, the Canadians were unable to repeat their group stage exploits.

Behringer, who will find out on January 9 if she has won the FIFA World Player of the Year after making the final three alongside Marta and Carli Lloyd, gave the Germans the lead, again from the penalty spot. Sara Däbritz, one of Germany’s rising stars at Bayern Munich, put the game to bed with a second just before the hour mark. And so, to the final. It wasn’t Germany v USA as some had predicted, or even Germany against the brilliance of Marta and hosts Brazil.

It was in fact, against Sweden, a team that you could probably tag with the term ‘party poopers’ if you follow the USA or Brazil, having knocked out the existing gold medalists and the hosts of the competition in consecutive matches. But do they care what people think of them? Of course not, and nor should they.

Having seen Sweden defend resolutely in the matches against the U.S and Brazil, many expected the same against the Germans – how wrong we all were! Sweden were much more adventurous in the final and despite Anja Mittag missing the chance of the half for the Germans, were worthy of their position as the teams went in goalless after the first 45 minutes.

All tournament, fans, media and followers of the women’s game has been waiting with baited breath for the magic of Dszenifer Marozsan to light up the competition and show why she is considered to be one of the world’s best.

It’s fair to say she had a quiet tournament, but big players show up on the biggest of stages, and Marozsan did just that with a wonderful moment of brilliance a few minutes into the second half, curling a shot from the edge of the box past the goalkeeper of the tournament, Hedvig Lindahl, to give the Germans the lead.

Rising prospect Stina Blackstenius pulled a goal back for the Swedes following the most unfortunate of own-goals from defender Linda Sembrant, but it was too little, too late. Neid’s team held out for a 2-1 win, and claimed their first ever Olympic Gold Medal, with Pia Sundhage and her Sweden team having to settle for a deserved silver.

For Germany, the tournament started slowly, but much like for the U.S in Canada, gathered pace as the competition progressed. Melanie Behringer was rightly named Player of the Tournament, while head coach Silvia Neid departed the sideline as a winner in the fashion stakes, and a winner in the hearts of German fans everywhere.

  • Rufan

    I did not think coaches received medals. Unless that was a figurative statement.

  • newsouth
    • Steglitz49

      Pray, what does the Tet-offensive have to do with this? Please explain.

    • HOFCToDi
      • Steglitz49

        We are in 2016, not 2015.

        • HOFCToDi

          See above.

          FIFA does not care what a stupid Swede thinks.

          • Steglitz49

            It is still 2016 for a few more days. Then it is 2017. The CBA expires at midnight on Dec 31st 2016.

    • HOFCToDi

      resources.fifa.com/mm/document/tournament/competition/02/65/52/49/eng_49_0630_usa-ger_fulltime.pdf

      resources.fifa.com/mm/document/tournament/competition/02/65/44/41/eng_49_0630_usa-ger_tacticalstartlist.pdf

      • Steglitz49

        2016, not 2015.

        2016 the USWNT had its worst ever result in a major intercontinental tournament. Worst. Ever.

        Please remind us who captained the USWNT when they bombed out in Brasilia (even with the ref crew on their side).

        • HOFCToDi

          FIFA does not care what a stupid Swede thinks.

          • Steglitz49

            It is still 2016. In a few more days.it will be 2017.

    • HOFCToDi

      youtube.com/watch?v=G4zLHV8Ycco

  • Som Termanni

    FIFA released a profile of Carli Lloyd today full of shade from Randy Waldrum: http://www.fifa.com/the-best-fifa-football-awards/news/y=2016/m=12/news=lloyd-s-day-to-day-life-with-houston-2861822.html

    Some highlights:

    > “__Some perceptions about her may be different than the reality is__, but my experience of her here in Houston has been, first and foremost, she’s been a great pro,” Waldrum said in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “She’s very diligent about taking care of her body, __doing the things away from the pitch__ to make sure she stays at the peak of her game.

    > “Most of my team, quite frankly, are young. I don’t have a lot of those older, experienced players on the squad, so __when we do have her around__ at training, she’s really good with that [providing her wisdom and experience].

    > “When she wears the captain’s armband for the US, and even for us at times with the Dash, she’s not that vocal,” Waldrum said. “__She’s not that person that is going to motivate vocally her team-mates__, but she’s a great leader in the respect of the example that she sets.

    > “To be honest, I’m quite excited about next year, as it’s going to be the first time we basically have her all season,” he said. “__We’ve had her so randomly the last couple of years__, even though we appreciate the time we have her, it’s hard to get that continuity. I think this next year, year-and-a-half, the sky could be the limit for us, so I’m really anxious to have her on a full-time basis.”

    • Steglitz49

      Is this a build-up to Carli having won the POTY again? A strategy so that the world does not say a collective “Que?” or the 4-lettered version, when it is announced in Zurich.

      • newsouth

        another american travesty and abomination like dinky Virginia winning a 2nd hermann over great icelandic.

        • HOFCToDi

          You’re off to see the wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. If you only had a brain.

        • DNG

          The great Icelandic needs to improve her overall game if she’s going to get into Portland’s XI this year. Brynjarsdottir might score goals but she clearly isn’t as well rounded a player as Brian.

          • guest

            don’t think speed can be improved much.

          • mockmook

            She can be utilized in ways where her speed isn’t much of a liability — for example, can be a CAM who receives the ball and makes sure it is moved on to the open/right player.

          • DNG

            I wasn’t talking about speed. I was talking about her overall play.

          • mockmook

            Dagny plays Forward or Mid, so she can occupy one of (typically) six positions.

            I’ll be shocked if she isn’t starting at least half of the Thorns games.

          • DNG

            She will start during the Euros or if their is an injury but I don’t think she’ll be in the XI as a first choice in a team with Long, Horan, and Henry. I don’t think she’s a 6 or an 8 or even a playmaking 10. She seems like more of a forward or a withdrawn forward to me. I don’t think she’s that slow either just not that quick similar to Horan which is sometimes harder to overcome.

          • Som Termanni

            > She will start during the Euros

            Won’t Dagny be playing in the Euros during the Euros?

          • DNG

            Yeah I forgot about that thank you. So probably injuries only then.

          • Steglitz49

            Indeed.

          • mockmook

            OK, we can have a friendly wager:

            If Dagny starts less than half of Portland’s games, I have to block S49

            If Dagny starts more than half of Portland’s games, you have to block S49

            And, if she starts exactly half the games, we both have to block S49

            Even if we lose, we win 😉

          • DNG

            Deal.:)

          • Steglitz49

            You are blessed because the chances of you needing to block S49 is minimal because Iceland is in Euro-17.

          • Steglitz49

            The voting is rigged against S49 because Iceland has qualified for Euro-17 it is likely that Dagny will start less than half of Portlan’d games.

          • mockmook

            “The voting is rigged against S49”

            You noticed that…

          • Lodovico Settembrini

            Agree. Saw her when she played in Munich. I was not really impressed.

            She was/is young though. Hence she will be able to develop

      • rkmid71

        If Lloyd wins, she should hand the award to Tobin Heath. Remember Lloyd wasn’t even 2nd for the US Soccer award — that was Dunn. In 2012, as winner of US Soccer award, Morgan should have won FIFA POTY and somehow lost to Wambach and Marta. But at least she was finalist. If FIFA must include a US player in the top 10 nominees, where was Heath? Did FIFA ask anyone at US Soccer? Or maybe they just want to make a joke of WoSo?

        • Steglitz49

          Once FIFA let the general public have a say, they must have known that it was curtains for small nations. USA 315m, Brazil 200m, Japan 145m, Germany 85m.

          In addition by making sure that Hedvig Lindahl was not to be voted on in spite of 2 French players getting on the voting list, the POTY award stinks to high heaven.

    • mockmook

      Shade == Praise ????

      Don’t think so.

      Or, am I missing something?

      • Som Termanni

        All Randy can do is say Carli’s great… when she’s there. She’s a leader… who doesn’t motivate her teammates. She’s a mentor… who only randomly shows up over spans of years at a time.

        It’s supposed to be a fluff piece to promote her FIFA award campaign, and Randy can’t get a full sentence out of his mouth without including a caveat about her missing time, showing up at random, and not being vocal–the thing she’s known for the most outside of her play–while at the club.

        The nicest thing he can say about her without a caveat is that she takes care of herself when she’s not playing with his team. Hell of an endorsement for world player of the year.

        • DNG

          The comments don’t come across to me as being backhanded. I got the impression that Abby was a vocal leader but never Lloyd. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with leading by example anyway. There are lots of ways to effectively lead a team. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him mentioning that she isn’t always around since that has been the reality with all NT players for the last 2 years.

          As an aside. I find it difficult to take the FIFA POTY award(along with many other awards) seriously when FIFA doesn’t seem to take it seriously themselves. Lloyd wasn’t even voted one of the top two players for US soccer this year in their awards and yet, she’s a finalist for FIFA POTY.

          • JL

            Sinclair is not that vocal on the field, yet no one says she’s not a leader.

            I blame FIFA for a lot of things, but the votes for POTY and COTY are not one of them. The votes are cast by captains, coaches, media, and fans. FIFA has no say in the winner.

          • rkmid71

            FIFA decides the list from which everyone votes. Why was Lloyd on the list? Because she won last year? I blame FIFA for the list.

          • DNG

            There seems to be very little transparency with this stuff too. Remember the fifa technical group that picked the WC awards a year ago

          • rkmid71

            Yes. I was so shocked Sauerbrunn didn’t get WC All Star selection or Best XI, I went so far as to list the FIFA tech committee members. Never did get any logical explanation. What technical analysis could they possibly have been looking at? I just can’t imagine being in the room while these discussions happen. Then she gets Defender of Year in NWSL that year playing about half the games. Dumb. I think Sauerbrunn was even embarrassed. It seemed like a makeup award that USSF somehow engineered.

          • guest

            i’m surprised carli lloyd didn’t boycott the fifa player of the year ceremony and award last in protest to the unequal fifa world cup bonuses for women compared to the men.

          • guest

            maybe lloyd will take a knee at the fifa ceremony this year if goes to it.

          • Steglitz49

            Hear hear!

          • DNG

            The whole process is flawed in my opinion. I don’t understand why the captains are the only players that get to vote for example and I don’t know who the group of people who decide who gets on the short list are either.

          • Steglitz49

            Indeed. The shortlist for WoSo could be a bit longer today, like 15 players, and it should be set by people who know WoSo not just a bunch of people who knock it up in 7 min after spending 7 h on the men..

          • Steglitz49

            As other have noted, the selection of the list to vote on stinks to high heaven.

          • rkmid71

            Lloyd has been a huge disappointment as a captain. Something is missing. I think it stems from her self centered nature. Where was her leadership in Rio when Hope went off the rails. Instead it was silence until way after the fact when it was too late. Where was she out front taking responsibility for the worst results in team history in a major tournament. Where was she in setting an example about preparation and fitness pre OG — sitting out all Houston games post the MCL sprain. Where was she when her trainer and even herself was criticizing a teammate in press articles. Why is every statement out of her mouth repeatedly about achieving her own personal goals. No — she is not a captain that leads by example. Her focus is on herself not her team.

          • DNG

            You may be right but I try to steer clear of those types of assumptions. The crash out of a major tournament was bound to happen at some point. They happened to get an tough match up for them this year while they got a string of almost perfect match ups a year earlier at the WC. I definitely didn’t like the extra missed NWSL matches due to “recovery”. I think she milked that one to train where she wanted prior to the Olympics. Her teammates can probably look past the me first attitude to a certain extent but I definitely believe that it could easily rub some teammates the wrong way. I think Lloyd and her trainer are way out of line with some of the comments related to Morgan and her photoshoots. I think Waldrum gave the Dash captaincy back to Ohai after the Olympics.

    • rkmid71

      If he wasn’t at least somewhat honest, Waldrum would lose all credibility with the other players. I would be “anxious” about having her too. She’s got to be the most inefficient offensive player in the league the last two years. High volume shooter, low SOG %, low goal conversion (ex PKs), few assists. Kind of like Kristie Mewis. She seems to have carte blanche (or she ignores any coaching to the contrary) to take any shot she feels like no matter how unlikely it is for her to score. Just look at her 2015 and 2016 NWSL stats. It’s not a surprise to me that her Houston team struggles to get results. Houston will have the same offensive issues as the USWNT as long as Lloyd is in the center of the attack. They should be focusing on shoring up their defense and midfield until that dynamic changes.

  • Ethan

    Blackstenius’ goal wasn’t an equalizer; it cut the deficit in half. Still don’t know why Sundhage subbed out Asllani so early. She was critical to that goal, and her passing game could have maybe helped Sweden find an equalizer.

    • Steglitz49

      The real question is: why did Blackstenius not start?

      The second question could be: why could Sofia Jakobsson not figure out how to stay onside?

  • Tom F

    hats off to Neid for winning the Olympics! This wasn’t her best team, Laudehr got injured in the first game and missed the rest of the tourney. Goessling was recovering from injury and only came in as a sub. Didn’t think a team with such a weak CB combo like Batuziak/Krahn was going to be able to win, but Neid installed some strong discipline into the squad, and those two were able to even mount an effective off sides trap against the likes of Sofia The Stick Jacobsson, perhaps the fastest woso player in the world.
    Because Neid liked to gamble by bringing the FB’s way up(their right back, Leonne Maier, took more shots than anybody else on the team), she was made to order for effective counter attacking teams like the US,(hence she never could beat them). But she was a thinking man’s coach, and got to give her credit, since let’s say if Canada won(they actually won more games than Neid with 5 victories at this OL), then Hedrman’s often brutal/physical style would of become Carte Blanche in the woso woRLD.
    Look for Germany’s new coach, Stefi Jones, to play a new, more faster paced type game, then the slower, more deliberate short passing game of Neid. But Jones looks like she needs to still iron out some things as Germany didn’t look too good in their last friendly vs Norway(a 1-1 draw)

    • Steglitz49

      The final was decided on an own goal. Could not have been worse. (Sweden scored more goals than Geramny!)

      Pia has never explained why she did not start Blackstenius.

      When Canada beat Germany in the group game, Buchanan was not playing. In the SF she conceded an unnecessary penalty, which gave Germany a 1-0 lead.

    • Lodovico Settembrini

      Excellent summary

      I don’t think that the draw against Norway gives any indidcation of how strong Germany really is since around 10 players were not available. Many of them simply got a rest – all Munich players, Kemme, Kershowski and others were injured like Goessling and Demann.

      I am curious how that team will play in near future since Jones wants to play a completetely new system (essentially a 4-4-2 instead of Neid’s 4-2-3-1)

      • Tom F

        Jones has brought in a lot of new players in which is a good thing, but it takes time to introduce them into her system, and she continues to use Josephine Henning in the starting lineup at CB even though she’s atrociously slow & mistake prone. Jones also keeps making Marozsan a DM, when she looks so much better playing upfront as an AM.
        While it’s nice to see Jones play a faster paced version, you also got to wonder if Germany can match that up with more athletic & speedier players, which is something that’s been missing previously. From what I’ve seen, the new French moved his team to more direct style as well