Eight-times European champions Germany romped to a resounding victory in their Group B opener on Friday evening, beating Denmark 4-0 at Brentford Community Stadium in front of a near-16,000 strong crowd.
Determined to avenge their 2017 Euro exit – where they bowed out at the quarter-final stage to Denmark – Die Nationalelf got 2022’s campaign off to a flyer, and had hit the bar three times inside the opening 15 minutes before Lina Magull opportunistically broke the deadlock.
Felicitas Rauch crashed two shots off the upright, while Frauen Bundesliga top scorer Lea Schuller did the same with a diving header from close range, setting the tone for an encounter in which the Germans were a yard quicker, and tactically smarter, than their Danish counterparts.
They are, however, part of the tournament’s toughest group which includes a particularly impressive Spanish side, who were themselves convincing 4-1 victors over Finland after scoring a hat-trick of headers and a penalty in the day’s earlier kick-off.
The Danes, finalists at the last European championships, looked in good shape during the initial stages, having played three warm-up ties to prepare for this summer’s tournament – beating Austria and Brazil before losing narrowly to Norway.
But their competitiveness waned as legs tired, paving the way for Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side to demonstrate why they are the most decorated women’s side in European history – the win also celebrated their 500th outing in an official match.
Suggestions that Germany are no longer entirely invincible were occasionally ratified, in spite of the commanding scoreline. Merle Frohms was called into question by Signe Bruun with a fierce shot from distance in the first period – one of two efforts on target – while Chelsea’s Pernille Harder found momentary pockets of space to exploit.
Buoyed by a legacy of European success, Germany’s intent was clear from the minute Magull struck an emphatic opener, though, with the outcome somewhat of a foregone conclusion from that moment onwards. Scorer turned provider, Magull delivered a pitch-perfect corner for Schuller to head beyond a helpless Lene Christensen in the 57th minute, with Denmark unable to keep pace with the athleticism on show from the tireless Germans.
VAR denied captain Svenja Huth a further goal 15 minutes before full time, ahead of substitute Lena Lattwein lashing home from six-yards as Denmark failed to clear their lines from a free-kick to compound a miserable opening night for Lars Sondergaard’s side.
Alexandra Popp rounded off the best move of the evening with a stooping header in the 86th minute, latching onto Sydney Lohmann’s delivery to cap a ruthless second-half scoring display from Die Mannschaft, who have further strengthened their case as potential favourites for continental silverware this summer.
Denmark ended a dismal display with a last-minute sending-off as 19-year-old Katherine Moller Kuhl was dismissed for a needless second bookable offence after coming on as a second-half substitute.
Voss-Tecklenburg: Incredibly dominant display
Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg:
“We played an outstanding game. We were at it right away and created plenty of scoring chances that we didn’t really take advantage of in the first half.
“We were incredibly dominant and aggressive. It was a great team effort by everyone involved.”
Forward Lina Magull added: “It was brutally intense from us for 90 minutes. We won an awful lot of duels and played with a lot of heart. I’m really quite proud of the team. It was a very, very good start to the Euros.”
Popp’s emotional first Euros goal
For a player of Alexandra Popp’s international renown, it’s almost unfathomable that she only scored her first Euros goal on Friday evening.
It has been nine years of frustration and disappointment between Popp and the European championships. In 2013 – the last time Germany won the tournament – she was ruled out with an ankle injury.
Her second successive injury absence was more keenly felt in 2017. Having established herself as one of Germany’s key players by that point in her illustrious career, the side exited at the quarter-final stage after a defeat to none other than Denmark.
In 2022, it’s proved to be third time lucky for Popp – and she made her Euros debut count. On her 115th cap, and with her 54th international goal, she finally got off the mark at the tournament with a well-taken goal, sweeping home Sydney Lohmann’s fizzing cross.
Her celebration was one filled with emotion as she dropped to her knees before being mobbed by her ecstatic teammates. It would have been simply cruel if Popp had gone her entire career without a Euros appearance or goal.
Analysis: Germany hand out Danish mauling
Sky Sports’ Charlotte Marsh:
“Before the game, Germany were certainly the favourites for victory – but few could surely have predicted it would come in such a manner. It was a mauling.
“Some were questioning Germany heading into the Euros. They failed to make it past the quarter-final stage of the last two major tournaments and did not qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Was their international dominance, particularly in Europe, over?
“But having won the Euros eight times – including six successive titles between 1995 and 2013 – Germany are always among the favourites. Although there are still eight teams yet to play their opening games, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side are already looking like tournament finalists, if not champions.
“All of their goals were expertly taken and anyone wanting to study the pressing game should take a watch back of an enthralling and entertaining 90 minutes. There was a clear message from Germany too – we’re coming for that ninth title.
“For Denmark, they were doomed from the off and were unable to deal with Germany’s press. They could not get their key players, such as Pernille Harder, into the game for any extended period because Germany were there at every turn to immediately retrieve the ball.
“Goalkeeper Merle Frohms made just one save of note, while Lene Christensen was far busier. Given the scoreline though, she did make some superb saves, but some of Germany’s goals were simply unstoppable.
“It was a disappointing evening overall for the Danes, who would have been hoping to inspire a similar run to five years ago, when they made it to the Euro 2017. However, they currently sit bottom of Group B and face a battle to push Germany and Spain out of those top two spots.”
Germany and Denmark are back in action on Tuesday. Germany take on Spain at the Brentford Community Stadium (kick-off 8pm), with Denmark facing Finland at the Stadium MK.
Group B concludes on Saturday 16 July, with Germany playing Finland in Milton Keynes. Denmark take on Spain at the Brentford Community Stadium with both games kicking off at 8pm.
Follow Euro 2022 across Sky Sports
Keep up with all the latest from Euro 2022 across Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.
Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will give analysis throughout the tournament.
They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.
The pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 Mobile Presentation Bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where matches are being played.
In addition, Sky Sports’ Essential Football Podcast will be rebranded for the tournament to Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast from 21 June. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a strong programme line up around the tournament.
Euro 2022: The groups…
Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland
Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland
Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland
Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland
Euro 2022: The schedule…
Wednesday July 6
Group A: England 1-0 Austria
Thursday July 7
Group A: Norway 4-1 Northern Ireland
Friday July 8
Group B: Spain 4-1 Finland
Group B: Germany 4-0 Denmark
Saturday July 9
Group C: Portugal vs Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Group C: Netherlands vs Sweden – kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Sunday July 10
Group D: Belgium vs Iceland – kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Italy – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium
Monday July 11
Group A: Austria vs Northern Ireland – kick off 5pm, St Mary’s
Group A: England v Norway – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Tuesday July 12
Group B: Denmark vs Finland – kick off 5pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Germany vs Spain – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Wednesday July 13
Group C: Sweden vs Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Netherlands v Portugal – kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Thursday July 14
Group D: Italy vs Iceland – kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Group D: France vs Belgium – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium
Friday July 15
Group A: Northern Ireland v England – kick off 8pm, St Mary’s
Group A: Austria vs Norway – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Saturday July 16
Group B: Finland vs Germany – kick off 8pm, Stadium MK
Group B: Denmark vs Spain – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Sunday July 17
Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane
Group C: Sweden vs Portugal – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village
Monday July 18
Group D: Iceland vs France – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium
Group D: Italy vs Belgium – kick off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium
Wednesday July 20
Quarter-final 1: Winners Group A v Runners-up Group B – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium
Thursday July 21
Quarter-final 2: Winners Group B v Runners-up Group A – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium
Friday July 22
Quarter-final 3: Winners Group C v Runners-up Group D – kick off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village
Quarter-final 4: Winners Group D v Runners-up Group C – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium
Tuesday July 26
Semi-final 1: Winners quarter-final 1 v Winners quarter-final 3 – kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane
Wednesday July 27
Semi-final 2: Winners quarter-final 2 v Winners quarter-final 4 – kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK
Sunday July 31
Winners semi-final 1 v Winners semi-final 2 – kick off 5pm, Wembley