An Olympic gold medal, two Champions League trophies, six “Meisterschalen” (Bundesliga trophy), and eight DFB cups. The list of Alexandra Popp’s titles is long, but a victory at the European Championship with Germany is still missing.
Due to injuries, Germany’s captain hasn’t even been able to participate in this tournament yet. Coming back from injury, the 31-year-old wants to add another trophy to her collection this summer.
World Cup qualifiers important as preparation for this summer
Germany are currently preparing for two World Cup qualifiers against Portugal (9th of April, 4pm CET) and Serbia (12th of April, 4pm CET).
Speaking to the media, Popp said that these games are important for the Euro preparation as well.
“Our goals are very clear: We want to win both games. Ideally, we would then qualify, which would bring a bit of calm into the next units. But we shouldn’t forget that it’s also a preparation for the European Championship, and we’re taking it very seriously.”Embed from Getty Images
Like Popp, Olympique Lyon star Dszenifer Marozsan highlighted that winning those two games is a no-brainer.
“I think women’s football has developed enormously. No game is won before it is played. Everyone wants to play against Germany and they’re doing everything they can to beat us. So it’s not a foregone conclusion for us. And Portugal is a very good team in my eyes and even Serbia gave us problems in the first game.”
Key player Popp grateful to be back with Germany
Popp’s comeback has been far from an easy one, having to undergo a second operation after a setback. Now she’s all the more motivated and grateful to be back on the pitch with the national team.
“I was full of gratitude to be back on the pitch. I also experienced the support and appreciation from the coaches here as well as from the club, being part of the team again right away. Of course I’m happy that all the hard work in the last weeks and months has paid off.”
Her Wolfsburg teammate, Kathy Hendrich, explained why Popp’s impact on and off the pitch cannot be overstated.
“You can just tell now that she’s back on the pitch, because I think she has an extraordinary presence in addition to her footballing qualities.
“And that helps us enormously as a team. I can remember training sessions where we got into a bit of a bicker because she wasn’t happy with little things and she always says that to your face.
“I think it’s super important that it’s not always peace and quiet, but that there’s also someone who sometimes loudly tells her team-mates if things aren’t going well.”Embed from Getty Images
Wolfsburg have been in excellent form lately in Germany
With Popp back, the “She-Wolves” have been on an incredible run lately. Unbeaten across all competitions for 15 games, since the 18th of November, they are one of the most in-form club teams right now.
Wolfsburg captain Svenja Huth said the team’s mentality was crucial and they took advantage of the momentum.
“I believe that Wolfsburg have always been characterised by their strong physicality and mental strength, but also by their way of playing football. Not only being good defensively, but also running the ball well. I think that’s what got us into a flow and showed what this team is capable of.”
Germany ambitious for this summer
However, Wolfsburg are not Germany. And after disappointing Arnold Clark Cup results, many didn’t count them as favourites for the upcoming Euro anymore. For Popp, that doesn’t change her ambition:
“My goal is to become European Champion!”
Hendrich added that, as eight-time winners of the competition, Germany will always strive to lift the trophy at the end.
“I think if you go to a tournament, and if you are Germany, then winning definitely has to be the goal, and it will be.
“Of course, we are aware that the competition is getting stronger and also bigger. But that is also what makes this tournament exciting. You can’t say: this team will win it single-handedly.”
On their route to Wembley, the German players will have to get used to playing with each other first.
Playing with the team for the first time since April 2022, it will also be interesting to see how Alexandra Popp fits into the squad now.