A casual saying comes easily from Alexandra Popp's lips, and that was no different after the groundbreaking win against Denmark. She was asked after the 3-0 (2-0) win in Rostock whether she would like Horst Hrubsch to remain the national coach of the German footballers for longer. “Basically, I don’t think we would say no, but of course we know what makes his wife tick,” said the captain with a laugh.
The DFB team had previously won the direct comparison against their main rivals Denmark, and almost as casually as Popp chatted afterwards about interim national coach Hrubesch. Ms. Hrubesch “turned a blind eye” again, Popp said with a smile: “So thank you Angelika for having him here.”
In addition to the striker, a number of other national players thanked their coach, who apparently gave the team a healthy lightness, self-confidence and playing strength again.
With Hrubesch for the third win in the third game
In Hrubesch's third victory in the third game, Popp (14th minute) was joined by Marina Hegering (26th) and Klara Bühl (90th) in front of 19,180 spectators in the sold-out Ostseestadion. “You could actually tell across the board that we were playing well, that we were in it and that somehow nothing was burned at the back,” said Popp. Hrubesch simply gives the team “a very, very good feeling” and trust “across the board,” she added. "So not just one to eleven, but all of them." The structure is back together again, "and that's a lot of fun."
The celebrated interim national coach also commented loosely on the fact that after hymns of praise of this kind, questions arose again about his future, alluding to Popp's comments on married life in the Hrubesch household: "Oh, my wife has been through everything. I've been married for over 50 years now. She will too continue to survive." So it's quite possible that the wonderful journey of the "old man", as Hrubesch sometimes refers to himself, with his team will take a little longer than expected.
The coach had originally agreed to four Nations League group games, the last of which will take place on Tuesday in Wales. If the clearly favored DFB team wins away, they will certainly take part in the four-team final tournament of the Nations League at the end of February, in which two European places for the Olympic Games in Paris next summer will be awarded. France is already set to host the Olympics.
Hrubesch had already indicated before the Denmark game that he would also look after the team in the final tournament. What happens next is unclear and probably depends on whether the German team takes part in the Olympics or not. “I want to stick with it for now and see how it develops,” said the 1980 European champion on Friday evening.
Schult: “Clear development of the team”
Others like DFB managing director Andreas Rettig raved about the qualities of the HSV idol. “It’s great what Horst has achieved here with his coaching team,” said Rettig on ZDF. "You can see that the team has a completely different body language, they are on fire, they run for the coach." The coach's handwriting is also clearly recognizable for the former national soccer goalkeeper and Olympic champion Almuth Schult. “The team had clarity and determination in their game,” said the 32-year-old after an important win against Denmark.
In any case, Rettig can imagine Hrubesch staying beyond a possible final tournament. “I have nothing against Horst Hrubesch celebrating his 73rd birthday as national coach,” said Rettig. Hrubesch, whose birthday is April 17th, stepped in as interim head coach at the beginning of October after then national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg reported illness, whose contract with the German Football Association (DFB) has since been terminated.
Since then, things have been going well again for the vice-European champions. The team even mastered the pressure situation against Denmark - even a draw would have made the Olympics a thing of the past - with amazing confidence. "It's still far from perfect. But I think we've brought the basics, the virtues that define us, that define football, back onto the pitch," said the offensively energetic Sydney Lohmann. “There was life there, there was full commitment.” And there was a Horst Hrubesch who knew everyone behind him - his wife Angelika anyway.