Friday 07 June 2019, 09:27

Popp: We’re still among the favourites

  • speaks to Germany captain Alexandra Popp

  • Wolfsburg player talks about her role in the team

  • Believes there are no clear favourites to win France 2019

By Steffen Potter with Germany

Two-time world champions Germany maintained their winning habit when they collected gold at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016. The following year, however, they lost to Denmark in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s EURO, a setback that marked the start of an unexpected slump in their fortunes.

The Germans have recently appointed a new coach and undergone a few personnel changes on the pitch, with some new faces coming in and some experienced performers calling time on their international careers.

We spoke to Mannschaft captain Alexandra Popp about the new make-up of the team, the coach, and who she sees as the favourites for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™. You have a very interesting squad, with some players having won only a few caps

Alexandra Popp: It’s a great combination of young players, not so young players and veterans. Just being here is amazing for the younger players, who bring new blood and a freshness. It’s our job as the most experienced players to help them settle in, not worry too much and to just go out and play their game. It’s a lot of fun to be part of this squad.

You’re the captain now. What does your role involve?

Basically, I’m just the same as I was before I became captain because I’ve been one of the leaders for quite a while now. Where things have changed a lot is off the pitch because I have to deal with organisational things more now, though Svenja [Huth], the vice-captain, and the national team board help me out with that. Obviously, and in setting the example that I have to, my job also involves taking an interest in the younger players and asking them how they are. It’s something that the other veterans have to do too. But at the end of the day, I just try to carry on being who I am.

You have a new coach in Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, who was in charge of you at Duisburg. How would you describe her and the way she works?

I don’t think Martina has changed a lot since then. She’s extremely competent, pays a lot of attention to detail and is very meticulous in training. I think it’s very important. She’s very open with the players and talks to them a lot so that they know what they have to do. All of that really helps when it comes to working with her.

The China PR goalkeepers smile during training
What has she told you about China PR, your first opponents?

That they’re strong going forward and tough to beat, even if we move the ball around fast, which is exactly how we want to play. We want to play at a high tempo, keep the ball as much as we can, take the game to them and make them run. We need to keep it tight at the back too and give away as little as we can.

There a lot of very good sides in the competition, but who are the favourites and where would you rank Germany?

The fact is I don’t see a clear favourite. There are a lot of contenders: USA, France, who are the hosts and have come on a lot, and I don’t think people have been talking enough about England either. They’ve improved a great deal too. I’m also looking forward to seeing what reigning European champions the Netherlands do. As for us, we’re still among the favourites, of course.

Alexandra Popp of Germany poses for a photo

So, Alex, tell us about...

Your favourite food?

I’d have to say spaghetti bolognaise.

Your favourite place?

Off the top of my head, the sofa!

Your favourite person?

My whole family. I couldn’t pick anyone out in particular.

Your favourite song?

I don’t have one. I like lots of types of music, which is why I don’t have one favourite song.

Your favourite opponents?

Sweden, I think. I’ve got very good memories of Sweden because I’ve always ended up on the winning side against them. Playing Sweden in the final? Of course! Why not?