Popp calls on underdogs Wolfsburg to channel spirit of 2013 against Barca

Popp calls on underdogs Wolfsburg to channel spirit of 2013 against Barca

 Ten years after Wolfsburg achieved a "euphoric" treble, star striker Alexandra Popp hopes to tap the underdog spirit from that memorable campaign against favourites Barcelona in Saturday's Women's Champions League final.

Red-hot Barcelona have lost only twice in the Spanish league in the past four seasons and will be playing in their fourth Champions League final in five years when they take on Wolfsburg in Eindhoven.

"I would definitely not make us favourites," Popp told media in a press conference in Wolfsburg.

The forward, who on Wednesday was named Germany captain for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, has won three Champions League titles. The first was as a teenager with Duisburg in 2009 and the others with Wolfsburg in 2013 and 2014.

Popp drew inspiration from her side's memorable 2012-13 campaign when they swept the German League and Cup and won the Champions League.

"We couldn't believe what we'd managed to do. It was Wolfsburg's first year in the Champions League," the 32-year-old said.

"To achieve something like that -- a triple -- it gives you goosebumps just talking about it.

"It makes me happy to think about it, it makes me feel euphoric."

Wolfsburg's treble class of 2013 has been invited for a reunion this week and will be at the game on Saturday -- with Popp front and centre on the pitch.

- 'Caused a sensation' -

Wolfsburg have won the German Cup in each of the last nine seasons and five of the past seven Bundesliga titles, although they lost out on the final day this season to Bayern Munich.

Despite their dominance in Germany, Wolfsburg are without a Champions League title in nine years. They lost the 2016, 2018 and 2020 finals to Lyon.

Barcelona, who won their only title against Chelsea in 2021, will also be happy they are not facing Lyon after losing the 2019 and 2022 finals to the French club.

"Barcelona in the last few years have caused a sensation," said Popp.

"But I believe as you saw with our return leg (a 3-2 win against Arsenal in London) or our games against Bayern (a 5-0 demolition in the German Cup semis) there are games where we show how well we can play.

"We just need to bring it on the pitch."

Popp said she "doesn't mind" who she plays because the final "will be a game at a crazily high level".

"We have one game and in that game anything can happen. We're on a neutral field and it can go in any possible direction.

"Because of that, I'm very optimistic."

- 'Wolfsburg DNA' -

Popp calls on underdogs Wolfsburg to channel spirit of 2013 against Barca

Despite a decade-and-a-half of success, Popp won her first Bundesliga scoring title this season and then said she "would gladly send it to Munich" in return for the championship".

She has a habit of scoring in big matches and struck as Wolfsburg won both their quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain and their semi against Arsenal by one goal on aggregate.

Barcelona and England wing-back Lucy Bronze said England benefited from Popp's absence in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley, which England won 2-1 after extra time.

"Popp missed out on that game which probably made a huge difference to the German team," said Bronze.

"For both Germany and Wolfsburg she's their talisman player, the one that shows up in the big games and the big moments and leads by example, leads the team and has that mentality."

The striker said the Wolves' toughness would see them through against Barcelona.

"I think we play our best when we're under pressure," Popp said.

"When it comes to Wolfsburg DNA, we've had our mentality tested in recent years and we've shown a constant desire to stay hungry for success."

Next Post Previous Post
No Comment
Add Comment
comment url