Wolfsburg captain Alexandra Popp warned her UEFA Women’s Champions League final opponent Barcelona it will stop the Catalans on Saturday.
The 2021 champion is firm favourite to win the game and defeated Wolfsburg in last season’s semifinals 5-3 on aggregate.
However, German attacker Popp said that while she enjoyed watching Barcelona’s football, she and her teammates would be out to spoil its rhythm at the PSV Stadium in Eindhoven.
“They’re one of the best teams, it’s fun to watch them — but we’re not going to watch them tomorrow, let me tell you that,” Popp told a news conference Friday.
“Barcelona’s style is quite tricky to play against. They move the ball very well, so you have to play tactically, very cleverly.
“Everybody on the pitch has to give 100 percent, (and be) very disciplined. If someone makes a mistake, it’s difficult to get the ball back.
“It’s hard to play against, but I think we can do it.”
Popp, 32 and a key figure for club and country, won the Champions League twice with Wolfsburg in 2013 and 2014, but her team has been frustrated since.
It was runner-up in 2016, 2018 and 2020, and Barcelona thrashed it 5-1 in the first leg of last season’s semifinal.
The German side won 2-0 at home in the second leg but that was not enough to turn the tie around but a result it is looking to build on in this year’s final.
“We have to consider the second leg – we learned a lot in that one week,” said Wolfsburg coach Tommy Stroot.
“We made some developments from the first game, we’ve made quite a few steps forward this season.
“I said I would like to play Barcelona in one game, in a final, because we think we have a good chance to win tomorrow, we have special qualities.”
WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN
Popp agreed with her coach that Wolfsburg would not collapse again like it did at Camp Nou, a match which earned and still holds the record attendance for a women’s football game – 91,648.
“We are very well prepared for the game tomorrow, it won’t happen like it did in the first leg last year,” said Popp.
“Like the coach said, we already proved that in the second leg. If you play Barcelona, you have to play differently. Other teams have shown that this year and we’ve drawn conclusions from that.”
Saturday’s match is the first sell-out women’s Champions League final since the competition was rebranded for the 2009-10 season, which Popp said she was proud of, along with the growth of women’s football across Europe.
The forward said her teammates were relaxed ahead of the showpiece event, saving her the job of having to calm nerves in the camp.
“In the last few days I’ve observed the younger players to see how they are, if they are nervous, so I can talk to them, but I don’t have a big job in that regard,” added Popp.
“The atmosphere in the team is very good, everyone is excited, looking forward to it, I don’t see that much tension.”
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