Lena Oberdorf is Germany’s MVP for Euro 2022 closing, even when crunching tackles get fewer plaudits than targets
When Germany arrived in England forward of the 2022 European Championships, there have been acquainted questions across the eight-time champions. However Germany, with a resolute staff spirit and a resilient midfield, have impressed en path to Sunday’s file (watch LIVE at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN+).
Though most gamers within the squad would robotically decide to reward the staff ethic as a complete quite than their particular person contributions, few gamers have stood out like midfield lynchpin Lena Oberdorf. Able to advancing into the No. 10 position or dropping into the No. 6, the versatile Oberdorf has through the years performed most roles on the pitch, even discovering herself between the sticks previously.
A tricky tackler with a nostril for hazard, Oberdorf’s first senior outing was with the German nationwide staff of their run as much as the 2019 World Cup — the Gevelsberg native was handed her debut at 17, two months earlier than making her World Cup bow, turning into the sixth-youngest participant to characterize Germany on the largest event in ladies’s soccer.
With Germany’s Achilles heel having lengthy been their again line (notably the centre-back positions), Oberdorf’s early run within the staff was within the backline. But, for all of the plaudits she acquired, it was clear she wasn’t being utilised to one of the best of her talents. In time, Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg moved the teenager ahead, deploying her into the center of the park the place she featured for SGS Essen earlier than her transfer to German champions, VfL Wolfsburg.
At Wolfsburg, Oberdorf has solely refined her sport and continues to belie her relative youth — as she remarked after Germany’s first sport on the Euros: “I do not recognise that I am 20. I really feel like after I’m on the pitch, all people sees me as like a 28-year-old participant.”
Enjoying a starring position in her second main event with a rising cache of staff and particular person accolades, it’s definitely straightforward to neglect that Oberdorf is simply 20, however as she says: “I simply neglect about my age, simply play, simply have enjoyable, simply get into the duels as a result of that is what I can do one of the best.”
Certainly, take-ons and tackling are the place the midfielder shines, however quite than merely throwing her physique into challenges and sliding alongside the grass with studs raised, the midfielder is adept as studying the play and timing her interventions. She might lead the event in bookings — three yellow playing cards in 354 minutes this month, the end result of her back-to-back yellows within the group stage which means she sat out Germany’s win over Finland — however she is much from a rash participant.
Coming into the ultimate, Oberdorf ranks third on the event for profitable duels with 69 and is tied for second with 19 tackles, which is not too dangerous for her tally of playing cards, not least given she grew up watching Sergio Ramos clips on-line, the Spanish defender additionally by no means removed from the referee’s guide.
Having grown up taking part in soccer within the backyard alongside her father and brother — Tim, who gamers for Fortuna Düsseldorf within the 2. Bundesliga — Oberdorf additionally spent taking part in on boys groups. Standing at 5-foot-9 and constructed to be simply muscular sufficient, the midfielder cuts an imposing determine within the ladies’s sport — however on a staff with teenage boys, she quick realized she wanted to be sensible in addition to sturdy. This may be seen in her challenges, the 20-year-old understanding when to step in and get her physique between the opposing participant and the ball, or when to stretch out a leg to swat the ball away with a flick of her heel.
In addition to an unerring staff mentality this summer season from Germany, we have seen a calmness about how the staff has gone about their duties on the pitch. As defined by ahead Svenja Huth, a teammate of Oberdorf’s at Wolfsburg: “It has been necessary all through the entire event that we have had an excellent mixture of skilled gamers that convey a sure ease.”
With a squad that’s cut up between younger and previous, with ten gamers aged 24 or youthful and 6 of their 30s, it could be straightforward to simply consider a centurion like Alex Popp as one of the experienced players, but it could be unsuitable to low cost the the calmness from the likes of Oberdorf or Giulia Gwinn, each of whom are at their second senior tournaments.
It is when the staff is requested to defend — to get behind the ball as a bunch and refuse their opposition any clear or apparent routes by to Merle Frohms‘ aim — that the assured play from Oberdorf shines. Or, when up against a rapid French counterattack, Oberdorf’s skill to learn the play and arc her run earlier than sliding to take the ball off the attacker and not using a shred of panic that she shows the traits of one of many senior gamers within the squad.
In some ways, Oberdorf typifies the group Voss-Tecklenburg has introduced collectively: younger however skilled, gifted but humble, individually good however fully centered on the success of the collective staff. Oberdorf was unavailable for choice final time Germany clashed with England, a loss at the Arnold Clark Cup — a pleasant four-team event held in England in February — and if the Lionesses are to once more have comparable pleasure on the closing, they’ll first want to beat the cornerstone of the German midfield.
In an period of the attacker being king, Oberdorf will not be the kind of participant to steal the headlines or make the entrance pages — but with out her consistency and expertise, Germany wouldn’t have gotten this far. She’s apparent alternative for participant of the event, and Oberdorf may but have her crowning second this Euros.