At the end of the trip to Swansea, Horst Hrubesch wished them a "Merry Christmas", but the German footballers can start the new year with little optimism.
Four months after the World Cup debacle in Australia, the interim national coach's selection narrowly missed the next bitter setback in the 0-0 draw against Wales. The women's team remains a major construction site in the German Football Association - even if the 72-year-old is continuing for the time being and defender Sara Doorsoun announced: "Now we will attack fully in the new year to make the Olympic dream come true."
Only thanks to the help of Iceland, who surprisingly beat Denmark 1-0, did the DFB women reach the final tournament of the Nations League from February 21st to 28th as group winners, where two European tickets for Paris 2024 will still be awarded. Hrubesch is looking ahead to Monday's draw in the hope that his team will play France in the semi-finals. Since the French are set to host the Olympics, third place would be enough if they took part in the final. In the event of a defeat, Germany would have another chance - and would be there in Paris if they won.
European champions England not at the Olympics
The vice-European champions led by captain Alexandra Popp could also face world champions Spain or the Netherlands. The Oranje team won Group 1 against Belgium 4-0 with two goals in stoppage time and was therefore one goal better than England in the final score (6-0 in Scotland): This means that the vice world champions and European champions from the island are not at the summer games.
The DFB selection was just spared that. After a more than poor performance at the Liberty Stadium, the German footballers are going into the decision about Olympic qualification as outsiders. “I would agree that we are not considered favorites,” said Hrubesch.
The 72-year-old will also sit on the DFB team's bench at the final tournament, as he confirmed at the press conference in Swansea: "So it's planned that I'll still be there." It is still uncertain whether he will still be head coach in Paris if he is successful.
In any case, the association is looking for a permanent solution to the coaching position after the long impasse surrounding ex-national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, who has since become ill. Former world champion Nia Künzer will soon be introduced as the new sports director.
Drop in performance after Denmark game inexplicable
National goalkeeper Almuth Schult, who won gold medal with the German women in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, was also quite shocked as an ARD expert by the completely erratic performance against Wales. “Unfortunately, I am very disappointed with the performance of the German team,” said the ex-Wolfsburg player.
"Somehow we couldn't play our game. It can't be that we put in such a performance against Denmark and then play a game like that today," said Chelsea midfielder Sjoeke Nüsken four days after the strong 3-0 win in Rostock. Against Wales, the Hrubesch team lacked any goal threat, even regular players like Popp, Svenja Huth and Klara Bühl disappeared.
"We still lack consistency in the games, so we have to get on our own - again and again," said Bühl from FC Bayern. "Still, we're happy that we're further along. Even though it was pretty disgusting," she admitted.
"It wasn't our expectation that we played like that today. In the end we also have to thank Iceland," said Hrubesch. "The positive thing is that we are still in business." However, if the DFB women miss the Olympic qualification, then they won't have another tournament until the summer of 2025 - the European Championships in Switzerland.