Melanie Leupolz will play in her fourth international tournament in the summer with the Germany women’s team. She has won two of those four: the 2013 European Championship and the 2016 Olympic Games. Ahead of the international with Sweden on Saturday (13:45 CEST), the 24-year-old discussed...
...the side’s World Cup hopes: I think that have a good chance, as we have a team full of quality. There are a number of good teams in the tournament though. Five or six teams could become world champions – and you will always get a few underdogs on top of that too.
...the favourites for the World Cup: As I’ve said, there are a few. France have a strong team, USA and England will always be dangerous. Obviously we want to go far too.
...France: I haven’t been to France that often, only once to Paris so far, but it was very nice. Hopefully we will be there for a long time during the World Cup and see as much as possible. I hope that the French people will get excited by the tournament and there will be some real hype around it. One good thing is that France isn’t far away, meaning that my friends and family can also visit.
...preparation for the World Cup: It’s clearly important. We don’t have that much time, so we have to use it efficiently. The national coach will prepare us well. We have two tough opponents in Japan and Chile. In these friendlies we will see where we stand and what we still need to improve.
...her tournament experiences: We’ve often seen that teams who are strong at the back will go far in the tournament. Other than that, team spirit is massively important. There are always highs and lows in a tournament; you just have to get through the lows as a team. Emotions are also key: You can’t win a tournament without passion.
...the new talents in the Germany team: I’m really happy that they are in the squad, because they bring a lot of quality with them. I can remember how it was as one of the youngest players in the squad. Us older and more experienced players have the task of showing holding their hand, so that they feel comfortable and can perform to their best for us.
...the new national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg: She is very demanding and drives us forwards as a team. The new coaching team fits together really well. They all have personal contact with us and it makes for a nice balance. You have the feeling that you will learn something in every training session.
...the new captain: Poppi (Alexandra Popp) is a real leader on the pitch. She leads front the front, works hard and always sets the right example. I think she’s happy to do the job too. I’m glad that she’s the new captain. Svenja Huth is also a good vice-captain. I think it’s a good combination.
...the successful qualification: Our confidence has grown somewhat. A year ago you could sense a little bit of uncertainty. Then Horst Hrubesch came and we qualified relatively comfortably for the World Cup. We are back on track and had a good break in Marbella at the start of the year, when we had time for a lot training sessions together. The win against France has given us real hope ahead of the World Cup. We are still aware that we have a lot of work ahead of us though, but who doesn’t right now?
...her role in the team: As a central midfielder I automatically have to be a leader on the pitch. In my position you need to control the tempo, distribute the ball and order the team about. I like having this responsibility. Off the pitch I’m a bit more reserved, but I will always give my opinion when asked. I’ll always try and get the younger players involved and help them when they need it.
...the “Bayern-block”: I like the fact that we have a number of Bayern players in the national team. We know each other really well, the girls are really cool and I like spending time with them. It’s a good environment to be in. On the other hand, I always like spending time with girls from other clubs. I feel right at home in this team.