UEFA EURO 2013 Preview: Group B
This year’s June issue is full of EURO 2013 content. We were able to get personal with some of the players and learn more about the teams competing. If you enjoy watching the players on the field, check out some of their stories in our current print magazine. The animated gifs are provided by Ashley Dyce, a graduate of the Art Institute of California with a degree in graphic design.
Group B is an interesting group filled with teams on opposite ends of the soccer spectrum. Germany and Norway are two teams that have formed the backbone of women’s soccer history, while the Netherlands and Iceland are two up-and-coming squads without much success in big tournaments.
Since Germany failed to qualify for last summer’s Olympics, the Algarve Cup has been its only big test in the last year. After placing second in the tournament to the US, and a poor performance overall, the Germans will look to this tournament as an opportunity to reclaim their place at the top.
Unfortunately, along with Germany’s poor form have come many injuries. Six players will be missing this year’s EURO tournament: Alexandra Popp, Verena Faisst, Viola Odebrecht, Linda Bresonik, Kim Kulig, and Babett Peter. This means a lot of young players are going to have to step up for this squad.
One of those players is forward Dzsenifer Marozsan. With 6 goals in only 16 caps, Marozsan really garnered attention at the U-20 WWC last year, and in the pair of friendlies against the US last year, in which Marozsan scored a brace. She is technically one of the best young players in the world and with a lethal finishing touch, can help take the pressure to score off of Okoyino da Mbabi.
This is a Norway team with an interesting mix of youth and veterans. While Norway didn’t make it out of the group stage of the 2011 WWC they did have a solid showing at this year’s Algarve Cup, where they placed third, beating fellow EURO competitor Sweden on penalty kicks.
The attack relies on two 18-year-olds that have a combined 22 caps between them. First is midfielder Caroline Graham Hansen, whose goal against Japan in the Algarve Cup should tell you all you need to know… she’s electric.
Also important to Norway’s success is Ada Hegerberg. While she may not be as flashy as Hansen, Hegerberg reads the game incredibly well and already has 4 goals in just 8 caps. She too performed well at the Algarve Cup, with a late goal to tie the game against Sweden in the third place match.
What will be interesting for Norway is the man on the bench. Bringing back Head Coach Even Pellerud to Norway means that they might rediscover their identity and compete like they did in the 1990s.
The Netherlands is another team heavily relying on youth. In fact, their average team age is 24.5 years old. To put that in perspective, only four players on the US Women’s National Team that see consistent playing time are under 24.
Despite this, the Dutch performed well in the Cyprus Cup. Although they placed sixth overall, their final standing was not indicative of their success. In group play the Netherlands tied Finland and Switzerland in 1-1 draws. Take into account they only lost 1-0 to eventual runner-up Canada (which beat Finland and Switzerland in higher scoring affairs), it wasn’t a bad tournament for the Dutch.
The key player for the Netherlands is without a doubt forward Manon Melis. With 39 goals in 81 caps, Melis is the all-time leading scorer for the Dutch. She makes great runs forward and knows how to finish. Her cheeky chip in the game against the US comes to mind as a solid example of her skill.
In more recent news, 22-year-old defender Mandy van den Berg suffered ligament damage and had to be replaced. Head Coach Roger Reijners called it a “huge setback” and has called up uncapped Meral van Dongen.
The Netherlands will have a difficult task getting out of Group B, but they may be able to surprise some teams, especially if Melis is on her game.
Although their form has dropped in recent years, for a country with the a smaller population than the state of Rhode Island, they tend to do well for themselves. This past Algarve Cup was a tough one for them, losing four games by an aggregate of 11 to 1. Boasting one of the world’s top goalkeepers in Thora Helgadottir, that kind of goal differential has to worry a team.
With a team full of veterans (13 of the named roster took part in the 2009 edition of the tournament), Iceland are one of the more experienced teams on paper, but overall the team has little familiarity with major tournaments. And by looking at their group, none of the teams have played in a major tournament since the 2011 World Cup.
A bright spot for Iceland is forward Margrét Lára Vidarsdóttir, who was tied for second in scoring for qualifiers with 11 goals. If she continues her scoring form, and their defense can tie up some of their loose ends, Iceland have the potential to advance out of the group.
The Germany/Norway match-up will determine the No. 1 and No. 2 in the group. Germany is a team with something to prove, which can give them an edge. Final group B standings are: Germany, Norway, Netherlands, and Iceland.
Rachael Caldwell will be graduating from the University of Arkansas in 2015 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and minors in Spanish and Business Management. Rachael played soccer from the age of three until her senior year of high school, where she was the captain of her state championship-winning team. While she only plays pick up now, she still passionately follows the game and was contacted by Our Game Magazine via Twitter in 2013. Rachael looks forward to writing more for OGM and also writes about women’s soccer on her own blog at rachaelfc.wordpress.com.