Germany go into their final Group B match at the Women's Euro in the Netherlands needing only a draw to qualify. However, coach Steffi Jones has made it clear that nothing less than a victory will be satisfactory.
As is the case regarding most of their opponents, Germany's women have an overwhelmingly positive record against the Russians, who they face in their final group-stage game in Utrecht. The two teams have met each other in a total of 19 matches (including friendlies), with Germany winning 17 times, with two draws. This includes the two times the sides met in qualifying for this summer's tournament; a 4-0 win for Germany in Russia and a 2-0 win at home. A further measure of Germany's dominance is the fact that they have outscored Russia 67-8 in in those 19 contests.
Despite their record against their final Group B opponents - and the fact that on four points from their first two matches, Germany only need a draw to advance - there appears to be little chance of any overconfidence as they head into Tuesday night's contest.
Lack of finishing remains a concern
While head coach Steffi Jones said she was happy with the result after Germany's 2-1 victory over Italy on Friday, she rightfully expressed more than a little concern about her team's finishing. It wasn't for a lack of chances that Germany weren't able to score more, having put 10 of their 25 total attempts on target. The Germans simply weren't clinical enough, having to rely on a goalkeeping error off a set piece and later a spot kick to get the two goals they needed. Jones wants more from her creative players, including newly crowned Germany Women's Footballer of the Year Dzenifer Marozsan, against Russia.
"It's simply not enough. We have to score goals and work on our mistakes," the 44-year-old former national team defender said after the Italy match. "Otherwise it will be difficult to achieve our goal."
Nothing but the title will do
Germany of course will be satisfied with no less than a seventh-consecutive and ninth-overall women's European title, and despite their record against the Russians, they will be taking nothing for granted.
"This will be a completely new match," German midfielder Kathrin Hendrich said in comments published on the German football association's (DFB) website. "We have to force our game on the Russians. There are no easy games at a European championship… We have to be more focused when we are in the final third of the pitch - to create scoring chances and put them away."
Teammate Leonie Maier said she expected the Russians to be just as difficult to beat as the Italians were. Russia could potentially dump Germany out with a win, after defeating The Azzurri themselves in the opening group game.
"If we want to leave the pitch as the victors we'll have to be wide awake from the first to the last minute and win the individual battles," the defender said.
Asked whether the team was feeling the pressure over Germany's lack of dominance in their first two matches, Maier conceded that "a certain pressure is always present." But she also said she was confident that the team would come up with an improved performance on Tuesday evening in Utrecht. Putting a few goals past Russian goalkeeper Tatyana Shcherbak could go a long way to putting Steffi Jones' concerns to rest.