Alexandra Popp has been sidelined by injury for almost three months, but her comeback for the Germany women’s national team is now right around the corner. Ahead of the “Three Nations, One Goal” tournament fixtures against Belgium (Sunday, 18:00 CET) and the Netherlands (Wednesday, 18:30 CET), the playmaker spoke at a press conference to discuss a special campaign by the magazine 11Freunde, the two matches to come and a returning player.
Alexandra Popp on...
...the 11Freunde campaign "You can count on us": Everybody should be free to live and love how they like. It doesn’t matter whether it’s men or women on the pitch – in the end it’s about the performance and the quality. That’s not affected by who the players love. I even think that coming out can be a release and that it can give you an extra couple of percent in terms of performance. For me and everybody else who took part in the campaign, it was important to send a signal. It’s the year 2021 so it’s sad enough that we still have to worry about this. If somebody works up the courage to come out then we have to be there for them, stand behind them and support them.
...her first few days with the team: First of all, I am just happy to be back with the national team squad. My injury lasted longer than I thought at first, so I’m happy that I’m able to return. The atmosphere is good.
...the upcoming tournament and games without fans: Games without fans obviously aren’t nice – that’s not even a question. We miss the fans and the celebrations a lot, and how they push you on to squeeze out an extra two or three percent. The empty stands mean that games require even more mental energy. But we’re taking it as it is because in the end we are happy that we can play at all. The tournament is of great importance. All the matches we play this year should help us to develop as a team and take the next steps forward. So our aim is clear; we want to win both games and take the next step in our development.
…Germany’s playing style under Martina Voss-Tecklenburg: Our aim is to dominate. In the best case scenario, we want plenty of possession to impose our game on the opposition and create lots of goals with nice combinations. We want to be compact at the back so that we give away as few chances as possible.
...her current performance level after the injury lay-off: I would say I’m still not quite at 100% – but I’m close. I can feel in training that I was out for a long-time. It just takes time to get back, and game-time too. Right now, that is really important for me to get back to 100%. I feel ready for anything that comes my way.
...training guest Almuth Schult: Everyone who knows Almuth knows that she’s a competitive person. She is being really professional with the current situation, but you can also see that she’s not satisfied. She wants to change it with performances. That speaks for Almuth’s character. She doesn’t give up and when she fixes something in her mind then she has to achieve it. She is massively supportive as a leader and she’s working hard to get back to her old performance level. She’s been doing unbelievably well in the short period she’s been back in training. It feels like she saves everything in one-on-one situations. You can just tell that she’s lacking match practice, but I think that’s normal.
...the upcoming matches: Belgium have developed massively in recent years, they play good football. They have a great player in the squad, Tessa Wullaert, who can decide matches on her own. We have to be wary of that. The Dutch are a tad stronger, I think, and not least because of their recent results. These games will be a good test for us; it could push us right to the limit.
...the potential of women’s football: All clubs should put professional structures in place so that the FLYERALARM Frauen-Bundesliga can have the highest level of professionalism. That just isn’t the case right now, so it would be a big step in the right direction. Players would simply develop better and things would be more even.
...potential appearances in the upcoming games: I still don’t know how much playing time I’m going to get, or whether others will play instead. (laughs) It’ll be a surprise. We have lots of players here and we always want to try a lot of things out, so I can understand that things are often switched up. For us players from VfL and from FC Bayern, we have a lot of fixtures ahead of us. The Germany coach will definitely consider that.