The Germany women got their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a perfect start, with two wins from their opening two games putting them top of Group A. “It was a good start, but there’s still room for improvement,” said team captain Svenja Huth. Next up, Germany will face Israel in back-to-back qualifiers on 21st and 26th October, as they look to add to their points haul. In an interview with FIFA.com, Huth spoke about managing the team’s role as favourites, the expectations, maturing as a player and a special friendship.
FIFA.com: You got off to a strong start in qualifying for the next World Cup in Australia/New Zealand (7-0 vs. Bulgaria, 5-1 vs. Serbia). How pleased are you with the team’s current form?
Svenja Huth: We started well, and there were moments where we let the ball do the work for us. However, there were also moments in both games where we struggled to find our way into the game and to bring our qualities to the pitch. Over the next weeks, and especially against Israel, we will need to be in top form right from the get-go. To sum it up, it was a good start, but there’s still room for improvement.”
FIFA.com: You mentioned the upcoming games, which will also mark a first for the team, as it’s the first time a Germany women’s team is facing Israel in an international fixture. What kind of game are you expecting? You coach has said that she is looking for the team to continue this winning run and to be dominant right from the start.
Huth: We need to be ready right from the first whistle and make it clear to our opponents with our body language, our build-up play and our passing in the final third that they won’t find it easy to get past us. We are going into these two games with the goal of taking all six points. However, we also want to continue improving, both as a team and as individuals. It will be important that we are well-rested.
FIFA.com: Germany are the clear favourites going into the game, and many will likely be expecting the scoreline to run high. How do you deal with these expectations?
Huth: To be honest, we really don’t concern ourselves with that. Those of us who are involved in these games know that it’s never a foregone conclusion. We saw that against Serbia. It always comes down to us being in the groove and being able to play our game. In that case, our opponents often stand no chance. We will need to be at our best right from the start. Every team we face is highly motivated. They get stuck in, they defend well and it’s not always easy to play through that.”
FIFA.com: This is your third time taking part in World Cup qualification. What is it that makes this team so special?
Huth: We have a good mix of young players and ones that have already experienced what it’s like to go through qualification for a World Cup or the EUROs. We also have a good mix of focus, concentration and the necessary fun. As a team, we really have fun out on the pitch. We want to continue to fine-tune this over the next weeks and months in order to continue enjoying ourselves out there.”
FIFA.com: As captain, you’ve also taken on a leadership role within the team. Thinking back to the U20 Women’s World Cup in 2010, what do you think is the biggest development you’ve undergone?
Huth: I really enjoy thinking back to that time; it’s like it was yesterday. There have been several wins and defeats since then, but it’s possible to learn a lot from both. There were also some personal setbacks, like when I tore my ACL in 2013. I was able to come back stronger than I was before. That allowed me to grow, both as a person and as a player. Of course you have role models that you look to for inspiration, but you also collect your own experience. My time at Potsdam from 2015 to 2019 was incredibly valuable for me. I’ve experienced what it’s like as a young player to now as an experienced player. Also, what it’s like to be a regular starter, but also as a substitute. There’s a lot you can pass on to the younger players.
FIFA.com: The World Cup qualifiers are also good preparation for the upcoming EUROs. You said that the “level of competition within the team always increased ahead of a tournament like that.” Is that a pro or a con? Or is that was really helps to motivate you?
Huth: There’s always some level of competition within the team. But, it picks up when there’s a tournament on the horizon. It’s important, because every player wants to prove themselves, be it in training or during games. That also helps keep the quality high, because everyone is playing to their full potential and is showcasing their best side. This will help us to improve as a team over the coming weeks and months.
FIFA.com: The 2019 Women’s World Cup in France was a special tournament for you. What would it mean for you to be able to compete at your second World Cup?
Huth: It’s always something special to compete at a tournament with the national team. I’ve never won the World Cup, and it’s still a huge goal of mine. We will do everything we can during qualifying in order to be able to compete in 2023.
FIFA.com: Final question: on YouTube there’s a clip called “Best Friends” with you and Dzsenifer Marozsan. What is it that defines Dzsenifer as a person and as a player?
Huth: ‘Dzseni’ is a total people person and is always ready to offer help. We’ve known each other for half my life now. She’s a significant figure in my life and I can always reach out to her. She’s incredibly skilled on the pitch, calm when she’s on the ball and has great vision. She’s got a great shot as well and is a key player for us.”