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The only team to win the old UEFA Women's Cup three times, 1. FFC Frankfurt are finally making their bow in the UEFA Women's Champions League this season after sitting out the first two years of the restyled competition.
Although stalwarts Birgit Prinz and Kerstin Garefrekes retired this summer, Frankfurt still boast a top-class side including new signings Fatmire Bajramaj and Kim Kulig plus Sweden defender Sara Thunebro, who helped previous club Djurgårdens IF to the 2005 final. Part of the Swedish team that took FIFA Women's World Cup bronze in Germany, the 32-year-old spoke to UEFA.com about Frankfurt's prospects ahead of their round of 32 first-leg trip to Norway's Stabæk Football next Wednesday.
UEFA.com: Birgit Prinz has retired and Ariane Hingst has retired. How has that changed Frankfurt's approach this season?
Sara Thunebro: They are really big players and great personalities, both of them, but it's about the team. We've got new players in the team and, yes, I think finally we're going to make it work.
UEFA.com: You have made a good start to the season results-wise but is there room for improvement?
Thunebro: On paper we have a really good team, now we have to prove it on the pitch. [Some problems are] normal, when new players come and we have to get it together and they have to learn the Frankfurt style, so I'm not worried at all.
UEFA.com: Frankfurt haven't played in the top women's club competition for a couple of years, so it's a return to Europe for you. Does it feel special and does it give you extra motivation?
Thunebro: I think the Champions League is always special to play in. I played in it with my old team Djurgården a long time ago, so I'm really happy to be back in the Champions League. They are the games you look forward to playing, and finally we are here.
UEFA.com: What do you think about your opponents Stabæk?
Thunebro: I know some players there, and I know they have Norwegian internationals, so they are a really great team. It's not going to be easy. I'm looking forward to it but we have no time to relax, we have to improve on the pitch.
UEFA.com: This season's final is on German soil in Munich. Would it be even more special to reach the final?
Thunebro: Yes, of course. It's what I was saying before the World Cup – it's going to be great to be playing in Germany because of the fans and the organisation around it. In the World Cup, Germany proved what a football country it is and it feels special to play here. The Champions League final would be a dream.
UEFA.com: You already mentioned the games you played with Djurgården in 2005, reaching the final ...
Thunebro: It's a really great experience. A lot is happening on the pitch and off it, and the support you get from the fans and everything, now you want more. You've had the experience from the World Cup with so many fans and support, and it's a dream come true. Hopefully the dreams are coming back again.
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