Germany came into this game how they had started the tournament – the number one overall seed, an imposing team full of stars and players who know what it takes to win medals at this level. Portugal had faltered a couple of times in the pool, losing on universe point against both Austria and Russia. Still, they had finished second courtesy of a victory over Great Britain that acted as a tie-breaker with both teams finishing on five wins. The game was a formality as far as pre-quarter qualification went; both teams would reach that stage. This was a chance for Portugal to greatly improve their chances at a good quarter-final opponent, though.
The game started out quite sloppy. Portugal broke the German offence straight out of the blocks, taking only 100 seconds to put in the first point of the game. From there the teams held serve until 2-2. The fourth point of the game, with Portugal 2-1 up and the Germans looking to level the contest, was a crucial one. It lasted four-and-a-half minutes and saw six turnovers. The turns were a result of poor throws and execution rather than any difficult conditions or spectacular defensive plays; both teams seemed nervous. The Germans eventually scored quickly from a bad Portuguese turnover, notching a vital hold.
The next point saw Germany earn their first break. Robert Schumacher intercepted a loose pass while poaching the middle of the field and sent it to Arne Rausch who made a good catch for the score. Portugal responded immediately with an excellent throw from Sebastien Lacroix pulling them back level at 3-3.
The teams traded until 4-5, Germany maintaining the lead that Schumacher’s D had earned. Both teams were running well-executed, crisp offence and the defences were struggling to adapt. It wasn’t until David Pimenta sent a huck that didn’t sit enough in the wind that either team was able to make a dent on stopping the others’ flow. After that huck turned over, the German D line raced down the field and Schumacher was on the end of an excellent Nora Poel pass for a 4-6 lead.
Portugal stopped the German roll again, taking the game to 5-6 before more clinical German offence made the score 5-7 at half.
The Germans took a lead out of the Portuguese book after half and took a break immediately. Their offence was rolling on both the O and D lines, the two isolated cutters upfield finding space at will and the handlers recycling the disc with precision and purpose. Portugal took a timeout to try and stop their opponents’ momentum.
It didn’t work. The Germans took the disc back yet again and scored through a great layout from Swenja Wagner. That made it 5-9 and Portugal had a mountain to climb. Lacroix sent another gorgeous disc for an assist on the next point, and Portugal seemed to gain some confidence as the teams traded once more. At 7-10 Portugal managed to get a break back through Pedro Vargas – Germany miscommunicated on a dump and Vargas made a nice catch in traffic before ensuring his feet were planted firmly in the endzone.
Unfortunately for the Iberians, that was to be the last of the good news for them in the game. Time went during the break point, and despite a great block in the endzone by Lacroix on Schumacher the Germans didn’t lose their focus. Valerie Moller beat her mark in the endzone for the final score, and Germany took the 8-11 win. They enter pre-quarters tomorrow looking to add to their medal collection. Given the struggles of the North American teams against the Philippines, it could well be that the Germans need fear the island nation more than the superpowers come the later knockout stages. German efficiency against Filipino creativity would be quite a contrast of styles, and no doubt quite a game as well.
By Sean Colfer.