It was a goal that is sure to earn a place at the top of the World Cup highlights. With her back to the goal and half in the air, Alexandra Popp acrobatically carried the ball with her head and shoulder into the mesh of the Moroccan goal. It was 2-0 and provided the first security in the German game. “I just see where the ball is. I’m strongest with my head, no matter what height, and that’s how it was in this case,” Popp explained her feat on ZDF.
“That’s Poppi, that’s her quality. It’s nice that she was rewarded and that she has this quality and this power in the penalty area – that also triggers something in the next opponents. That’s good for her, it’s good for us and the team,” said national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.
In the end, the DFB team celebrated a clear 6-0 (2-0) win over Morocco, number 72 in the world. Germany thus set a first exclamation mark in the fight for the World Cup crown. “We are super, super happy that we were able to play such a game,” said Popp. “We stayed true to ourselves. We put good balls into the sixteen, where it became really dangerous. And I’m very happy that I was then able to provide security with my two goals.” In the 83rd minute, to great applause, the pioneer of the first World Cup victory left the field of the stadium in Melbourne, which was almost sold out with a good 27,000 fans.
Pop is the heart
Germany convinced at the first appearance and underlined their ambitions to play for the World Cup title. Special attention should also be paid to “Poppi” in the following games. The striker showed once again why she is one of the best-known German footballers. The 32-year-old is the captain and heart of the German team at her fourth World Cup.
She leads the way and is the fixed point in the attack – as was the case at the European Championships in England last year. At the European Championship, Popp scored in the three group games as well as in the quarterfinals and semifinals. No player had ever done that before in a European Championship finals. The striker only missed the final – Germany narrowly lost to the hosts England.
In the meantime, the disappointment about the lost European Championship final has evaporated – Popp now wants to crown her very successful career at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. After numerous national titles, including with VfL Wolfsburg, and the Olympic victory in 2016, the captain now wants to use what is probably her last chance at a World Cup trophy.
Because of her performance on the pitch, but also her demeanor off it, the captain could be the key to success. “Poppi is an icon. If you ask someone in Germany which footballer comes to mind first, she’s right at the top of the list,” defender Kathrin Hendrich explained in a DW interview.
Popp: “The most poisonous animals in the world”
In addition to her sporting skills, which Popp has already proven several times, she is also a sought-after expert in another area. Australia, which is known for particularly exotic and dangerous animals, has already caused one or the other room search of the DFB players. “I searched the whole room for spiders. Luckily I didn’t find anything, so I could sleep peacefully,” said goalkeeper Merle Frohms before the trip to Australia.
However, should it come to a contact, Popp should also be the right contact person here. The trained animal keeper had already allowed herself a little joke in the run-up to the tournament and made a “small presentation about one or the other animal species” to her fellow players. It was about “koalas, different types of kangaroos and of course what can come our way – the most poisonous animals in the world,” said Popp before the tournament started and added with a grin: “That didn’t go down too well with the players. Maybe I aroused more fear than I wanted.”
Popp is a role model and has fun
Popp leads the way and is the most sought-after player in the DFB squad. For young players like Jule Brandt or Nicole Anyomi she is a role model and for the national coach the constant in the German attacking game. “I don’t have to say anything more about Poppi and her two goals,” said Voss-Tecklenburg, pleased about the two goals of her star striker.