Thursday 13 June 2019, 09:36

Oberdorf: I don’t really know how I do it either

  • 17-year-old fired up for Germany

  • Offers versatility in midfield

  • Cites Marozsan as her role model

By Steffen Potter with Germany

Most fairly modest people become coy when asked what they are good at – but ask Germany’s Lena Oberdorf where she can improve, and the answers practically tumble out of her mouth.

"I think I have to be even more confident about what I can do out on the pitch, maybe be a little calmer and prepare myself more so that I already know what my next move is going to be," the 17-year-old told after her country’s 1-0 win over Spain. She already has an example to follow from within her own team.

"That’s what sets someone like Dzseni Marozsan apart, the fact that she is so calm on the ball and knows exactly what she wants to do and where the next free player is. I want to get to that level someday too."

Germany Travel To Lille - FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019

The SGS Essen midfielder boasts a decent track record at this FIFA Women’s World Cup so far. She became Germany’s youngest-ever player when she was brought on at half-time in their opening 1-0 win over China PR, and provided some much needed stability in central midfield. She then started the second match against Spain on the left wing before moving back into the centre after half-time.

Wherever she plays, Oberdorf garners glowing reviews from observers, with head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg describing her as "fantastic" after the China game.

Despite her young age, Oberdorf – who is still in school – impresses with her calmness and serenity on the ball, uses her physical strength to great effect and can demonstrate impressive amounts of energy too. How is all that possible after just one season in the Bundesliga?

"I don’t really know how I do it either," she laughed. "I still can’t grasp it at all. You get a bit nervous before each game, of course, but that all goes away once the match starts – then I can concentrate on my play."

The flexibility shown by several players in this Germany team is part of what makes them so difficult to predict. When the starting line-ups for their most recent match were announced, Spain assumed that they were using a 4-2-3-1 formation with Oberdorf in central midfield.

Germany v Spain: Group B - 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France

"I already feel more at home in the centre of midfield than out on the wing, but I don’t mind being used in different positions," she explained. "I’m used to that from youth level, and I even played on the left wing at the U-20 World Cup," added Oberdorf, who became U-17 European champion and was named player of the tournament at the age of 15 in 2017.

"With Lena, we want to introduce a physical presence," Voss-Tecklenburg explained after Germany’s opening match. "If we can do that with our youngest player, then that says a lot about her."

Centre-half and club team-mate Marina Hegering added: "Lena is already a top performer for us at Essen at the age of 17, and that’s no ordinary achievement. But she already has personality on the pitch; she has charisma and knows how to give a good account of herself. You’ll be hearing a lot more about her."

As if that was not enough, Oberdorf has already scored nine goals in just 16 Bundesliga appearances. Who knows? Perhaps she will get her name on the scoresheet in France as well. It will come as no surprise if she does.