During Euro 2022, one German youngster absolutely stole the show. Lena Oberdorf, at 20 years old, started five out of six games for Germany and won Young Player of the Tournament.
In the 2021/22 season, her performances in the Bundesliga and Champions League with Wolfsburg, in addition to her international presence, saw her come in fourth in the Ballon d’Or and third for UEFA Player of the Year.
As many have mentioned over the past few months, Oberdorf possesses a sixth sense for reading the game. Her awareness off the ball to cut off opposition passing lanes and cover her teammates is second to none. Oberdorf frustrates opposition through physicality and strength.
She is endearingly known as a ‘German tank’ or ‘human vacuum cleaner’ for her accumulation of yellow cards and strong tackles. This summer, Oberdorf controlled countries known for their midfield.Embed from Getty Images
What most fail to recognise is that Oberdorf was backed by one of the smartest managers currently in the game.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg played her midfield cards perfectly, more than making up for notable absentees Melanie Leupolz and Dzsenifer Marozsán (due to pregnancy and injury respectively).
Sara Däbritz and Lina Magull are two of the best midfielders in the world. This was brilliantly exemplified this summer.Embed from Getty Images
Lina Magull appeared on many best elevens following the conclusion of the Euro 2022 final at Wembley. Her three tournament goals came at crucial moments, and she was arguably the best player during Germany’s match against England.
The Bayern captain is creative and tenacious. She needs forward space to work with in order to operate at her highest level. Like Oberdorf, Magull does not give typical midfield distribution. Her passing shines in the final third when she is able to develop chances from nothing.
The German high-press permitted Magull to shine. Alexandra Popp’s willingness to drop into midfield created forward space for Magull and allowed the German attack to be unpredictable. The combination of Popp and Magull pressing in layers made it impossible for technical sides such as Spain to escape unscathed.
Magull’s creativity in reading the movement of opposition and her ability to execute on her intuition gave her eight attempts on goal. Three of her attempts found the back of the net with an additional one resulting in an assist.Embed from Getty Images
A Euro 2013 and Olympics 2016 winner, Sara Däbritz has been a mainstay for Germany since her teenage years.
As a young forward, Däbritz was known for speedy, slalom-like runs and sharp movements. Now the leader of a younger side, she has adapted her game to suit what is necessary.
In a side bursting with creativity, Däbritz played a subdued role this Euros. She dropped into a deeper midfield role to clean up after Oberdorf and Magull and be the main midfield distributor.
Däbritz only made four tackles the entire tournament. This is in comparison to Oberdorf’s whopping 23 tackles and Magull’s ten. Plenty of players on Germany were putting in tackles to frustrate opposition and create opportunities to counter attack. Clearly, this was not a necessary task for Däbritz to fulfill.
Furthermore, Däbritz’s passing accuracy was the highest out of the entire midfield and forward lines at 82 per cent. This number is impressive given Germany’s transitional game plan and shows her obvious role of calming down play and orchestrating attacking movement through the midfield.Embed from Getty Images
Oberdorf’s passing accuracy was only 65 per cent after the Euro 2022 final. In contrast to Keira Walsh’s passing accuracy of 89 per cent, this number is extremely low.
The past few years, Oberdorf has improved in her distribution to become a more well-rounded defensive midfielder. This summer, Voss-Tecklenburg did not ask for well-rounded midfielders. The specialisation of Oberdorf and Magull — alongside Alexandra Popp — gave Germany the extra gear needed to overcome top-ranked sides.
Däbritz was entrusted with filling in the gaps of the German midfield as well as adding her own game to the mix.
Although her tournament was labeled as lacklustre by many, Germany relied heavily on her experience to make it to the final.
As time goes on, Sydney Lohmann would be a logical choice for the role Däbritz played this summer. Lohmann’s distribution, midfield versatility, and ability to break lines will continue to complement the defensive mastermind in Oberdorf and creative, tenacious midfielders such as Magull, Linda Dallmann, Marozsán, or future stars the world hasn’t met quite yet.
Or, who knows? Maybe Germany will completely switch tactics by the time the World Cup rolls around next year. It’s not something anyone would put past this flexible and young side.