Alexandra popp is not yet nervous about the project. Even three days before the opening match at the women’s soccer world championship against china, the german captain seems extremely relaxed and confident.
"Of course it is a great honor for me to lead the team onto the field as captain for the first time at a world cup. But I’m still very relaxed, the tingling will probably come on friday evening when you go to bed," said the 28-year-old attacker from double winners vfl wolfsburg, looking ahead to the first game of the DFB-elf on saturday (15.00 o’clock/ARD and DAZN) in rennes against the asian women.
At the home tournament in 2011 and the world championships four years ago in canada, the own expectations and the public demands on the two-time world and eight-time european champion, who is accustomed to success, were much higher, explained popp on wednesday. "Because everyone said beforehand that germany would be world champions anyway. We don’t have that pressure now."
This is also due to the fact that the german national team suffered a surprising debacle at the european championships in the netherlands two years ago when they were knocked out in the quarterfinals by danmark, and that they hit rock bottom one year after winning the olympics in rio. "Unfortunately we didn’t make a good impression at the european championships. There really are more favorites now than there were before," said the german forward, who has visibly matured. Nevertheless, popp has remained true to herself despite her greater responsibility as a leading figure. The trained animal keeper from gevelsberg sometimes chats away as she pleases. In the heat of the moment, she sometimes confuses words or meanings, which makes her all the more likeable. On wednesday, she said, among other things: "if we were to end up on top at the world championships, that would of course be the super-gau."Or: "we go into the game with our chests held high."
Co-coach britta carlson praised popp, who scored 46 goals in 96 internationals, as a leader on and off the pitch: "she has developed enormously as a person. She speaks her mind clearly and has earned her place in the team," praised the 41-year-old assistant to national coach martina voss-tecklenburg. The robust and very strong forward is indispensable on the pitch anyway. Carlson: "we see them at the front of the box. With her presence, she is very important."
All 23 players are fit and ready to go, carlson reported. Even eagle attacker svenja huth, who had suspended training the day before, was to train again. "Svenja got a blow on the fub against chile, and it was badly swollen. We didn’t want to take any risks," explained the former national player. The training team is very satisfied with the training sessions in france so far and the overall state of preparations. According to carlson, they are trying to instill a sense of spab in the young team and a certain looseness, "but without losing focus.
The first world cup opponent has been analyzed, even if the details have yet to be discussed with the team. The chinese offense with the fast strikers shuang wang, who plays for paris saint-germain, and shanshan wang enjoys special respect. You had to look at china’s last test against france, which the world cup hosts only just won 2-1. "We know about the strength of the chinese women. But we have a good match plan," carlson revealed, and he was very optimistic: "if you’ve worked well, you can also go into the final preparation with a relaxed attitude."