By Pete Sanderson in Preston
Finland striker Laura Kalmari has revealed the secret behind her side's success after their extraordinary victory against Demark on Saturday earned them an extended stay at UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ and a semi-final meeting with Germany at Deepdale on Wednesday night.
The forward, who leads the EURO scoring charts alongside five other players on two goals, said that before the tournament the Finns prepared a slogan saying "the Germans are beatable" which was designed to motivate them all the way to the final.
"We regard the Germans as the best side in the world," she told uefa.com. "In fact, they are arguably one of the best teams in the history of the women's game so we created a slogan which says they are 'beatable' and 'if we can beat Germany we can beat anyone'. So far it seems to have done the trick, but now it will be put to the ultimate test when we play them in Preston."
Kalmari has been a revelation for Finland in their opening three games, scoring against England and Denmark and running herself into the ground to help her side earn a draw with Sweden. "When we set out on this football journey we gave ourselves goals," said the Djurgården/Älvsjö attacker. "First it was to qualify for the tournament, then to reach the semi-finals.
We are taking it one step at a time but who would bet against us going on and reaching the final now?
"Admittedly, when we were put in a group with England, Denmark and Sweden we thought it would be tough and that was backed up by our opening-day defeat in Manchester," added the 26-year-old. "But I think that defeat actually helped us because we relaxed and started playing our own game and it seems to have worked a treat."
Not surprisingly, Kalmari also puts their success down to an incredible team spirit and a number of big personalities in the dressing room. "The atmosphere in our team is fantastic and it is not surprising because we have got better and better - not just by the game but by the half.
"There are some vital personalities in the dressing room," she continued. "
Our captain Sanna Valkonen has been unbelievable for us in defence, she is a great organiser. In midfield Anne Mäkinen and Minna Mustonen have made us tick, they work incredibly hard both defensively and offensively.
Ace in the pack
"Then there's our goalkeeper [Satu Kunnas] who was simply outstanding against Denmark," she went on. "Without her, we would not be in the last four - she is that important. Even the youngsters have been important, they are the jokers in the pack." If Finland's run continues, coach Michael Käld will doubtless agree that he has an entire pack of aces.
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