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It was not the ideal UEFA Women's Champions League final warm-up for 1. FFC Frankfurt to lose Saturday's German Cup decider 2-0 to FC Bayern München, but experienced defender Saskia Bartusiak is sure they can turn their form around when they face Olympique Lyonnais at the traditional home of the Munich club, the Olympiastadion.
Lyon are the holders going into Thursday's match but Frankfurt are the only three-time European champions, Bartusiak having been part of their UEFA Women's Cup triumphs of 2006 and 2008. The German international told UEFA.com: "We know we can play a lot better than we played last Saturday, we have often proved that during the season.
"That is why we are in the Champions League final, and why we were in the final of the German Cup. We've worked hard for it, and knocked out strong opponents along the way. That is why we are optimistic we will show a different face tomorrow. This is a final, this is unique for us, and we are really looking forward to it."
The Frankfurt-born 29-year-old has more than 50 German caps and is more than familiar with many of Lyon's all-star lineup, even though the clubs themselves have never met competitively. "We know the Lyon team is made up of many great players who play for national teams, but we also have great players," Bartusiak said. "Whether it will play a role that I have played once or twice against [Lyon's Sweden forward] Lotta Schelin, I don't know. We are preparing for this game, and we know what to expect."
What Bartusiak can also count on is the support of much of what is set to be a competition-record crowd at the Olympiastadion. "It's something very special here in Munich, to play a final in Germany, in front of many spectators who will be mostly for us. It pushes you forward, of course it does."
Just as excited by the venue is Sandra Smisek, captaining Frankfurt in the absence of injured goalkeeper Nadine Angerer. "I thought we wouldn't be able to fill this stadium but I've heard that so many people have already bought tickets and I can't imagine a venue that's more perfect," the midfielder said.
"It's a great motivator to play here and I think UEFA made a great decision to play here. After Saturday the players talked in small groups and since Monday we've only been focused on this final. We're all positive and put the Bayern match behind us."
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