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European Championship round of 16: DFB team deletes “old hard drive”: Now in the winning zone

European Championship round of 16: DFB team deletes “old hard drive”: Now in the winning zone
European Championship round of 16: DFB team deletes “old hard drive”: Now in the winning zone

This European Championship can no longer end as a frustrating tournament for hosts Germany. The rainy Dortmund fairytale frees the national team from evil tournament spirits. That makes one man “proud”.

In the adrenaline rush of the “Völlig losgelöst” anthem sung by the fans, Julian Nagelsmann felt that he and the national football team had moved into the winning zone at the home European Championships. The 2-0 (0-0) win in the round of 16 against stubborn Danes in what the national coach described as a “bizarre game” was more than just a victory that could have been expected.

After the rainy season in Dortmund, the tournament can no longer end in great frustration for the hosts. Even if the dream of the final on July 14 in Berlin and the fourth European Championship title does not come true.

“It was definitely not an easy game,” admitted Nagelsmann in view of the extraordinary circumstances with the storm interruption, disallowed goals, nerve-wracking video evidence and the luck of the match in the decisive moments such as the handball penalty converted with icy coldness by Kai Havertz.

Won a knockout game for the first time since 2016

“To win a game like this with the adversities that also have a big impact on the players’ psyche, and to do so as the favorite, makes me proud,” said Nagelsmann. The relief was palpable and visible, especially in the many hugs from DFB sports director Rudi Völler on the sidelines. For the first time since the 2016 European Championship, the national team has won a knockout game at a major tournament, banishing the evil spirits of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup flops and the 2021 European Championship.

“They deserve it, hopefully they’ll slowly get the old hard drive erased and understand how good they really are,” said Nagelsmann. “The rattling in their heads” when something goes wrong is slowly disappearing. The pressure is now becoming positive.

Late at night, the DFB entourage returned to the European Championship camp in Herzogenaurach. Coaches, players, support staff – everyone was looking forward to a day of celebrating success with their families, at the end of which there would be a long wait for the quarter-final opponent. “Spain, Georgia, I’d like to play both,” announced captain Ilkay Gündogan before the opponent question was answered late on Sunday evening.

“We don’t need to hide from anyone”

Germany has a tournament team again. And after eight international matches without defeat, there is a belief that, together with the fans who have once again taken their national team to their hearts, they can master the biggest European championship tests. “I haven’t heard anyone say that we have to reach the round of 16. In a tournament in your own country, you always compete to win if you have the quality that we have,” said the people’s tribune Niclas Füllkrug: “We don’t have to hide from anyone!”

Every game is likely to be a feat of strength. Against the Danes, it was a thrilling emotional rollercoaster ride. “It was a wild game. The first 20 minutes were our best in the tournament,” said Nagelsmann. What drama. “The thunderstorm interruption, the supposed goal against us, then the handball penalty for us, which I can understand why the Danes are upset,” said Nagelsmann, describing the key moments. He also thanked the spectators: “The stadium had a great instinct and pushed us.”

Defense wins tournaments? “Yes, that’s true”

The 36-year-old himself has managed to transform paralysing pressure into energy: “It is a privilege to be able to play games under this pressure. We want to keep going like this.” The team spirit is good and this creates a positive performance climate. “Everyone in the team respects their job, everyone fights for each other,” said the emotional leader and defensive leader Antonio Rüdiger, who was named player of the match.

Suddenly, the defense is no longer a risk, but a factor for success. “Compliments to our defenders, they did a really good job,” said goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. At the World Cup triumph in Brazil ten years ago, a football saying applied that was also the topic on Saturday evening. A strong defense wins tournaments? “Yes, that’s true,” replied Neuer.

In the fourth tournament game, it became clear that Nagelsmann and his assistant Sandro Wagner, who is known for whipping up fans, had put together a coherent European Championship squad. They changed the starting eleven for the first time, bringing in Leroy Sané and David Raum from the start alongside Nico Schlotterbeck, who replaced the suspended Jonathan Tah with outstanding performance. “With the exception of Robin Koch, every (field player) has now played,” Nagelsmann emphasised. The battle for starting places has started to move.

First Havertz, then Musiala

Even if the offensive efficiency against Denmark was not worthy of a title, the team has players who can make the difference. Like Havertz, who converted the penalty after having missed a few chances. Or Jamal Musiala, who scored the 2-0 after a world-class ball from Schlotterbeck from his own half and is already one of the defining figures of this European Championship festival with three tournament goals.

“We had chances where we could have made the game easier. The good thing is that we create chances. On other days they go in,” said Musiala. A substitute goal from Füllkrug was not necessary this time. “There is always competition in football, but we are fair fighters,” said Havertz about the battle for places, whether at the front or the back.

Nagelsmann will only start the quarter-final countdown after a training-free Monday. Joshua Kimmich has already pulled the crowd joker. “The fans were really there,” he said after his 90th international match, praising the “best atmosphere by far” in Dortmund so far. That should be topped on Friday (6 p.m.) in Stuttgart, said Kimmich.

Source: Stern

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