FIFA Women's World Cup: Germany reacts to World Cup group-stage shock exit

Germany after one of the tournament favourites were driven out of the FIFA Women's World Cup at the group stage for the first time.

Avignyan Mukhopadhyay
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FIFA Women's World Cup | Sportz Point

"Tears on the pitch" was the tabloid Bild's choice of headline to sum up the distraught mood in Germany after one of the tournament favourites were driven out of the FIFA Women's World Cup at the group stage for the first time, after their 1-1 draw with South Korea.

The paper's online edition focused on closeups of the players, most long since pin-up personalities across Germany, with tears streaming down their faces, or seeking comforting hugs from coaches or teammates.

"Following their defeat the German women let their emotions have free rein," wrote Jörn Reher in Bild. "The tears are flowing, the disbelief is written all over the faces of the participants." Such a bitter defeat so early on he wrote, "is something that hardly any one had reckoned with".

In the Brisbane TV studio of the broadcaster ZDF, Sven Voss, who commentated on the match, summed up the team's performance as "too nervous, too passive … the disappointment is huge but at the end of the day Germany did not deliver enough".

Others referred to it as a "horror exit", comparable to their male counterparts' group-stage knockouts from the 2018 World Cup in Russia and from Qatar in 2022. Spiegel called their exit a "Deja vu … which brought about the worst result in Germany's World Cup history".

German viewers were fed devastating images of the players huddling in their hoodies, crumpled on the ground or shrugging their shoulders in bewildered despair, with Lena Oberdorf, seen as one of the tournament's stars but who failed to show her strengths on Wednesday, giving tearful, one-word answers in her post-match interview which fans on social media said had been painful to watch.

Football pundits were critical of the decision by the coach, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, to switch from a 4-3-3 formation to a back three, which seemed to backfire from the word go. Commentators – and Voss-Tecklenburg herself – said her future must now be in doubt.

Supporters of Germany react during a public screening in Berlin of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 match between South Korea and Germany. | Sportz Point

Fans look on aghast in Berlin during a public screening of their World Cup exit on another day of soul-searching for German football. (Image- Clemens Bilan/EPA)

Asked just what had gone wrong Fritzy Kromp, one of Germany's leading women's football coaches, who is head coach of Germany's Under-16/17s and of Eintracht Frankfurt II, told ZDF: "First we have to really let it sink in. We really suffered with them during the match, especially watching the girls lying distraught on the ground … there's nothing worse than when the tournament still has two weeks to run and you have to go home. You just want the tournament to be over at that point."

She said that analysis of the team's performance would come to the conclusion that "it wasn't all bad. But the things that went wrong were not a coincidence and there was a lot of things that went wrong." She said it was time for questions to be asked about the way the team was structured, which would have to be put to the Bundesliga, and "about structures in general", she said, urging both team and coach to "look ahead".

Spiegel praised the performance of Alexandra Popp, known for her heading prowess which she had shown off again in the final match, calling her "by some distance, the best German player ", and adding it would be "bitter, if the national football career of the incredible Popp were to have ended on this evening".

It said that 20 years after Germany's first World Cup win, and 10 years after securing their last European Championship triumph, it was "now high time to talk openly about the deficiencies both on and off the pitch".

After the FIFA Women's World Cup exit, the encouraging words of the foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, will have done little to lift the moods of players or fans. "What a drama!" she wrote on Twitter. "Some things are just not meant to be. Chin up, dear DFB women."

The education minister, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, expressed sympathy with the team. "I really would have liked to see you win," she wrote. "Cheer up, we are nevertheless proud of you!"

Germany Fifa Womens World Cup 2023