Germany v Spain: Five fun things to know about England’s potential Euro 2022 quarter-final opponents

Tonight’s Euro 2022 fixture marks one of the most highly-anticipated group stage matches at Brentford Community Stadium, kick-off 8pm. In addition to seeing two of the tournament favourites go head-to-head, we know you’ll be watching to find out the result that may also determine who the Lionesses face in the last eight. Here, Ruby Malone picks out some things you may not know about these European heavyweights…

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No pain, no gain for ‘underdogs’ Spain

The Spanish women’s team have never beaten Germany at senior level and Die Nationalelf will certainly be looking to preserve this unbeaten record in their Group B clash tonight. The Spanish coach, Jorge Vilda, has even admitted that a win would mean a lot to his team, saying: “… it’s something we’ve been in pursuit of for many years. I took over the national team in 2015 and one of the aims is to achieve the things you’ve not achieved before.”

Despite this damning record, the Spanish media are keen to point out that this disparity isn’t the case for all international age groups. A recent article in their national daily sport newspaper, Marca, was titled “Spain know how to beat Germany” and focused on La Roja’s positive history in this fixture at youth level. Talk about getting a dig in where you can!

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They’re learning on the job

What star-studded men’s professional football match could boast a lawyer, a zookeeper, a tattooist and current master’s and PhD students out on the pitch? None, is the answer. But the women make it look effortless.

German defender Felicitas Rauch already has a bachelor’s degree in business psychology and is currently doing a Master’s degree in innovation and futurology. She believes that studying helps her football – and it seems to be working as she impressed as part of the back four that made it a 14th clean sheet in 19 group games in their opener with Denmark. The team’s also been taking the Euros pressure in stride by warming up for tonight’s game by working on their table football skills.

Barcelona and Spain player Mapi Leon dreams of becoming a tattoo artist. She’s already practised a lot on her own skin – in fact, all the tattoos on her left hand are her work! Her fellow defender and club team-mate, Andrea Pereira, also combines playing football and studying law. Pretty impressive, eh?

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The 12th woman is a real thing

The well-known football term ‘the 12th man’ has been rebranded ‘the 12th woman’ for Euro 2022 by a Heineken-led campaign, raising funds for Women in Football. The idea is to encourage fans of all genders to get behind their team and this has certainly been the case for the Lionesses in their first two games. But Spain quite literally had a 12th woman in their match against Finland, as Ballon D’or winner Alexia Putellas cheered them on from the sidelines.

The team dedicated their win to Putellas, who was devastatingly ruled out of the tournament just days before it started with an ACL injury. Her team-mates said that her motivation and encouragement both in the dressing room and the stands has given them the confidence to face what’s ahead. Just when teams thought they’d escaped the Spanish superstar’s influence…

Germany may therefore be relieved to hear that Putellas won’t be in the stands tonight, after flying back to Spain to undergo knee surgery this morning. Though, not one to give up easily on the pitch or off, she will no doubt still find a way to make an impact from afar.

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Germany fight for equal pay goes on

Germany may well be ahead in the Women’s Euros records, having won eight of the last 10 tournaments, but they are way behind in a key aspect of the growth of the women’s game: equal pay. Despite predictions that this tournament will only expedite its visibility and popularity, the German players continue to be paid less than their male counterparts. According to Forbes, the women will be paid a mere 15 per cent of what the men were for playing in the Men’s Euro competition last year.

Oliver Bierhoff, the director of Germany’s national soccer federation, has publicly refused to introduce an equal-pay agreement, citing revenue disparities. This is in stark comparison to many other big European countries that have already done so – Spain, Denmark, Norway, Finland and England, to name a few.

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Their all-time heroes are game-changers

Both teams certainly boast elite and game-changing all-time heroes. Germany’s Birgit Prinz is easily the most successful player in Women’s Euro history – she has won it the most times (five) and is joint all-time top goal scorer for the tournament. Die Nationalelf will be able to benefit from this winning mentality in the dressing room, as Prinz is now the team psychologist.

Spanish legend Vero Boquete led Spain at their first ever World Cup in 2015 and has an accolade that is rarely granted to female footballers; the stadium in her Galician hometown is named after her. It was renamed in 2018 to pay homage and shows the impact she has made, despite playing at a time when women’s football was watched by few.

As if that’s not enough to gain hero status, she also set up a petition in 2013 pressuring EA Sports to include female footballers in their FIFA games. She managed to get 20,000 signatures in 24 hours and the company finally gave in, including Spain and a selection of other international women’s teams in its FIFA 16 release.

Follow Ruby on Twitter @RubyGMalone

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