New FC Rossiyanka coach Achim-Matthias Feifel thinks his side can upset the odds and overcome VfL Wolfsburg in March to reach the UEFA Women's Champions League semi-finals.
After FK Zorkiy Krasnogorsk were knocked out by defending champions Olympique Lyonnais in the round of 16, Rossiyanka are Russia's sole representative in the competition. The two previous times they have made the quarter-finals – in 2007/08 and 2011/12 – they have fallen to Frauen Bundesliga opposition in 1. FFC Frankfurt and 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam, and 48-year-old German Feifel fully recognises how strong Wolfsburg are.
"We got one of the hardest opponents in the draw," said Feifel, who took control of Rossiyanka at the end of October. "Wolfsburg are very strong, they have German internationals as well as players from other national teams. I'm sure they are currently the best side in Germany."
Yet former Hamburger SV women's coach Feifel insists there are no clear favourites in the forthcoming tie. "We have two difficult matches ahead, but our opponents should not expect an easy ride either. It's 50-50 right now, as we're strong too. We'll prepare in the best possible way, and come spring we'll see. During mid-season I said that Lyon will play Wolfsburg in the final. Now we need to get there instead of the Germans."
Rossiyanka, aiming for a third straight Russian title, are two points behind Zorkiy at the winter break with a game in hand. With plenty of time to prepare once they resume training in January, Rossiyanka's players are also optimistic of progressing to the last four for the first time – and even of emulating Zvezda-2005's run to the 2008/09 final.
"It's not the worst scenario," said defender Nadezhda Koltakova. "We were afraid of Lyon, yet Wolfsburg are not easy opponents either – they're leading the Bundesliga right now. It just makes our tie more interesting. We believe in ourselves, and it's time to finally go through the quarter-finals."
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