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Martina Voss-Tecklenburg: 'World Cup too early for us'

Jörg Strohschein
December 24, 2019

Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has had time to assess her first major tournament since taking over as coach of Germany's women's national team. She spoke to DW about a disappointing World Cup and her goals for 2020.

Frauenfußball-WM Pressekonferenz Martina Voss-Tecklenburg
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Gollnow

Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, it's been a few months since Germany were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup in France last summer. Do you still lie awake in bed thinking about this?

Martina Voss-Tecklenburg: I no longer have any sleepless nights. And when I did, this was primarily because it was a very intense time for everyone involved. When I went on vacation two weeks later, I had time to deal with it.

So you were able to put the shock of losing behind you entirely?

The moment of defeat in football is always difficult and it always hits me hard. But the nice thing about football is that there are fresh tasks ahead of you right away and you can refocus. That makes it a bit easier to put defeats behind you after a certain period of time.

Looking back, what would you say was the biggest reason for Germany's failure?

First of all, I take issue with the notion of failure. Of course our goal was to qualify for the Olympic Games. But we were also aware of the fact that we had started to renew the squad, with no less than 15 players playing in their first World Cup. Besides, we mustn't forget that we are a very new coaching team and these five people also had to grow together. Looking back, this World Cup came a bit too early for us.

How have things changed since then?

I've got to know the players very well this year. Back then, I didn't know exactly who was dealing with, how individuals deal with pressure. One thing I learned from this World Cup: I probably wouldn't do things the same against Sweden again, without knowing, of course, whether the changes would make us more successful. That's the kind of thing you have to go back and reflect upon. But you also have to remember that the opponent that beat us 2-1 was very good on the day.

What advantages do the four semifinalists, the United States, Sweden, England and the Netherlands have over Germany?

If I see one team ahead of the pack, it's the United States, because their situation is completely different from those of the Europeans. The United States play twice as many international matches because they don't have to limit their matches to the offseason. They can get their players together whenever they feel the need, so they're almost like a club team. In many respects they are definitely a step ahead of many other teams.

FIFA Frauen-WM 2019 | Deutschland vs. Südafrika | Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, Bundestrainerin
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's Germany were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Women's World CupImage: Reuters/J.P. Pelissier

What did you learn from the World Cup in terms of playing style, etc.?

The teams that are very proactive, particularly in transition, coupled with good passing ability tend to be successful. And if you look at the United States, you could see how quickly the team was able to react to in-game situations and how quickly they switched to five at the back, for example. Another trend is looking for solutions against high-pressing teams. But all teams have difficulty with that. If you find a way to deal with this effectively, you can dictate the game. And that is exactly what we aim to do.

There has been something of a boom in women's football in England in particular. What are the English doing better than the Germans at the moment?

England is currently the European leader in terms of support, attitude and performance. A lot of money has been invested in the structures there, both by the government and by the FA and sponsors. The teams there have been progressing well, even if they have yet to win a major title.

Do you see any other reasons for the boom?

The men's clubs are now required to make a strong commitment to women's football. So it's not like clubs can just pay lip service to women's football. They are implementing marketing strategies, and putting on showcase events like matches at Wembley Stadium or an all-women's football weekend. I think we can make one or two of these ideas our own.

How would you describe the situation in Germany?

We have to look closely at our structures. On the men's side, club football is strong. Now we need to look at how we can bring things together, working with the German Football Association (DFB) and the German Football League (DFL).

Where do you hope your team will be at the end of 2020?

We don't have a big tournament next year. I want my team to qualify for the Euros in England with good performances on the pitch. If we can then say at the end of the year that we feel well prepared for the tournament and believe that we can contend for the title, then it will have been a very constructive year.

The interview was conducted by Jörg Strohschein.

Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, 52, was a midfielder who made 125 appearances for Germany. Her greatest successes as a player include having finished second with Germany at the 1995 Women's World Cup, as well as winning the Euros four times; in 1989, 1991, 1995 and 1997. On April 26, 2018, the DFB appointed Voss-Tecklenburg as coach of the German women's national team.