When Germany arrived in England ahead of the 2022 European Championship, familiar questions arose around the eight-time champions. But Germany, with determined team spirit and tenacious midfield, made an impression en route to Sunday’s file (watch live at 11:30 am ET on Sportzshala and Sportzshala+).

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While most players on the team would automatically prefer to praise the team ethic as a whole rather than their individual contributions, few players have stood out as key midfielder Lena Oberdorf has. Able to advance to the No. 10 role or drop to No. 6, the versatile Oberdorf has played most roles on the field over the years, even finding herself between the clubs in the past.

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A tough player with a nose for danger, Oberdorf made her first appearance for the German national team ahead of the 2019 World Cup. the sixth youngest player to represent Germany in the biggest women’s football tournament.

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As Germany’s Achilles’ heel has long been their backline (especially the centre-back positions), Oberdorf was at the start of the team in the backline. However, despite all the applause she received, it was clear that she was not being used to the best of her ability. Over time, Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg brought the young athlete to the front, turning her around in the center of the field, where she played for SGS Essen, and then moved to the German champions VfL Wolfsburg.

At Wolfsburg, Oberdorf only improved her game and continues to lie about her relative youth, as she remarked after Germany’s first Euro game: “I don’t realize I’m 20. Everyone sees me as a 28-year-old player.”

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Starring in her second major tournament with a growing number of team and individual awards, of course, it’s easy to forget that Oberdorf is only 20 years old, but as she says: “I just forget about my age, I just play, I just have fun. , just duel because that’s what I do best.”

Indeed, tackles and tackles are where the linebacker shines, but instead of just throwing his body into challenges and gliding across the grass with spikes up, the linebacker knows how to read the game and time his interference. She may lead the tournament in bookings – three yellow cards in 354 minutes this month, the culmination of her consecutive yellow cards in the group stage, meaning she missed out on Germany’s victory over Finland – but she’s far from a reckless player. .

Making it to the final, Oberdorf is third in the dueling tournament with 69 and tied for second with 19 tackles, which isn’t too bad for her card counting, not least considering she grew up watching Sergio Ramos clips online. , The Spanish defender also does not depart from the referee’s book.

Growing up playing football in the garden with her father and brother – Tim, who plays for Fortuna Düsseldorf in the 2nd Bundesliga – Oberdorf also spent time playing in the boys’ teams. The 5-foot-9 linebacker with a fairly muscular build looks impressive in women’s football, but teaming with teenage boys, she quickly learned that she had to be not only strong, but also smart. This can be seen in her troubles: the 20-year-old knows when to step in and get between an opposing player and the ball, or when to reach out to hit the ball with a heel flick.

In addition to the unmistakable team spirit this summer from Germany, we have seen a calmness in the way the team carries out their duties on the field. As striker Svenja Hut, Oberdorf’s teammate at Wolfsburg, explained: “Throughout the tournament it was important that we have a good squad of experienced players who bring a certain ease.”

With a team that is split between young and old, with 10 players aged 24 or under and six in their 30s, it would be easy to think of a centurion like Alex Popp as one of the seasoned players, but it would be wrong to fold from accounts for the peace of mind of players like Oberdorf or Julia Gwynn, both of whom are in their second senior tournaments.

It’s when a team is asked to defend – step back for the ball as a group and deny the opposition any clear or obvious path to the Merle Fromes goal – Oberdorf’s guaranteed play shines. Or, when faced with a quick French counter-attack, Oberdorf’s ability to read the game and move in an arc before sliding to take the ball away from an attacker shows the traits of one of the older players on the team.

In many ways, Oberdorf epitomizes the group that Voss-Tecklenburg has put together: young but experienced, talented but modest, individually brilliant, but completely focused on the collective’s success. Oberdorf was ineligible for selection the last time Germany faced England, losing the Arnold Clark Cup – a four-team friendly tournament held in England in February – and if the Lionesses experience the same joy again in the final, they will first need to overcome the cornerstone stone of the German midfield.

In an era where the striker is king, Oberdorf isn’t the type to steal headlines or hit the front pages, but without her consistency and talent, Germany wouldn’t have come this far. She is the obvious choice for a player of the tournament and Oberdorf may yet have his signature moment at this Euro.