Defender Saskia Bartusiak has called for improvement from 1. FFC Frankfurt ahead of an exciting first-leg encounter with Paris Saint-Germain FC in the UEFA Women's Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday.
After a 1-0 defeat at Stabæk FK in the round of 32, it was Bartusiak's early strike in the second leg that paved the way for an eventual 4-2 aggregate victory for the German side, the sole three-time winners of the competition. "We said before that we wanted to score an early goal, and we managed to do that," Bartusiak told UEFA.com. "And that gave us confidence for the match and we managed to play on well."
But she is all too aware that even more is required against tournament debutants PSG. "We can improve in all parts of our game. All in all we were set up well in defence but there were some situations where they broke through too easily," the 29-year-old reflected. "We will see how it goes with our next opponents, and of course it would be OK for us if we could achieve clearer results."
Results such as those Frankfurt have been registering in the Frauen-Bundesliga would be ideal. Sven Kahlert's team are on an impressive domestic run, with the defence, helped by German international stopper Bartusiak, having conceded just once in seven games.
Those solid defensive displays have built a platform on which the Frankfurt attack has plundered a remarkable 26 goals. Such form has whetted the appetite and the focus is now firmly on the first of two matches against the French league runners-up – behind European champions Olympique Lyonnais – in Frankfurt next week.
Despite having won this competition twice, the experienced Bartusiak is wary of overconfidence and acknowledges there are no easy opponents at this level. "I don't know in detail which players play there, but I guess they will be a good team as they are playing in the Champions League."
Bartusiak's team-mate, goalkeeper Nadine Angerer also anticipates a tough task ahead. "I don't know PSG at all but they have a couple of national team players and France were among the top four at the [FIFA Women's] World Cup. I expect very difficult games."
However, the French club also got a first glimpse of German strength when they lost a pre-season friendly at FCR 2001 Duisburg 2-0 a few weeks ago, leaving the stage set for an intriguing pair of fixtures. There could be no bigger incentive for Frankfurt as this season's UEFA Women's Champions League final will be played on German soil, yet as keen as Bartusiak is to be part of the show, she maintains that the final is not on her mind.
"It's still a long way until Munich. Of course it would be nice if we made it there, it's definitely something special to play a Champions League final in Germany. But I am not thinking about it. We are looking from opponent to opponent, from match to match."
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