Germany deliver huge statement, crush Cote d’Ivoire in opener

Germany began their trip back to soccer’s summit by thrashing a wildly outclassed Cote d’Ivoire side 10-0 on Sunday afternoon in Ottawa.  It was the second biggest win ever for a team at the Women’s World Cup, one shy of a record set by Germany in 2011 against Argentina.

Pre-tournament favorites alongside the USA to win it all, the Germans got a hat-trick inside 30 minutes from Celia Sasic and a then a hat-trick from Anja Mittag by the time an hour was up. If ever there was a game crying out for the slaughter rule, it was this one.

Sasic opened the scoring after only three minutes, turning in a cross from Leonine Maier as Cote d’Ivoire struggled to contain the former champs’ pace. The hits kept on coming, with Dominique Thiamale forced to save a stinger from Alexandra Popp just minutes later. With Les Elephants pinned back into their own area, the Germans littered their area with shot after shot.

Sasic netted her second on 15 minutes after a sustained run of pressure off a feed from Lena Goessling. Sasic nearly completed her hat-trick three minutes later, but caught her cleats in the turf as the ball trickled out under pressure from Thiamale.

Cote d’Ivoire only had offense in flashes, with Amon Elloh being set clear on a clean diagonal ball after the Germans got a little lazy, but the inexperience was on full display as Elloh failed to control the ball and was easily dispossessed. Elloh continued to be a threat out wide, but with little support from her teammates, Nadine Angerer was rarely under real pressure.

Thiamale, on the other hand, continued to live on the edge. Germany had so many chances that it often felt as if Cote d’Ivoire were playing without a defense. Often caught alone on the line, she was frequently helpless to stop the onslaught.

And the goals kept raining in. Anja Mittag was slotted in all alone against the keeper one on one and had an easy side-foot to make it 3-0. Sasic would then complete her hat-trick with Thiamale sprawling. The clock showed that only a half-hour of football had been played.  Mittag would then score another, and with that, the Africans went to pieces.

Thiamale also would see yellow at the close of the half when she could quite easily have been sent off, then landed heavily on the tough Ottawa turf and came up clutching her shoulders. Pointedly, her two backups were not exactly rushing their warmups to replace her in the line of fire.

Germany easily could have been up by a dozen at the close of the first half, and that they weren’t might be a cause for concern for manager Silvia Neid. Against any team worth their salt, Germany is unlikely to get the 22 shots they had in the first half alone.

The second half actually saw the Africans with the ball in the net at one point; unfortunately that was after Angerer was cleaned out so it was correctly waved off. That was a momentary pause as Mittag quickly got her hat-trick as the heat radiating off the turf began to sap both teams.

From there, the goals came automatically. Simone Laudehr slotted in with ease, then sub Sara Dabritz was given a gift of a chance. Sub Melanie Behringer rounded her defender to score and Alexandra Popp scored off a free kick to put a stamp on the affair.

If there was a positive to take away from this match for Cote D’Ivoire, it was perhaps that this match was by far the toughest on their schedule. The Germans are far and away the best team in this group and this was always going to be a mismatch. If the Africans can shake off this game and take out their frustrations on the weak Thailand side they face next, they do have a chance to get out of the group.

Up next for Germany will be a Thursday meeting with Norway, a match which could determine who finishes top of Group B in the opening stage. Cote D’Ivoire and Thailand meet the same day, with both now looking to stay alive in the race for third place and possible passage into the knockout stage of the expanded tournament. The four best third place finishers move forward after the completion of the first round.