Twenty days will have passed since the end of the Swedish season when Damallsvenskan winners FCR Malmö host UEFA Women's Champions League holders VfL Wolfsburg in the last 16 on Saturday – but the long wait for action does not worry Malmö coach Jonas Eidevall.
Malmö reclaimed the domestic title by finishing an impressive seven points clear of Tyresö FF. And although Wolfsburg – yet to lose a European game – boast the competition's all-time top scorer Conny Pohlers, Eidevall can field the only other player with more than 40 UEFA women's club goals, Anja Mittag, fresh from a hat-trick in Germany's 13-0 defeat of Slovenia.
Eidevall told UEFA.com "There were international dates where many of our players got to play two matches. So even though we've had a break as a club, the players have been active. Now we've been training together for a week. Wolfsburg themselves have only played once since our last match."
Having taken the continental trophy in their debut campaign last season, Wolfsburg started their defence in mean mood by overcoming Pärnu JK 27-0 over two round of 32 legs, the highest aggregate score recorded in any UEFA competition. However, Eidevall noted: "They're a very good team but have been hit by injuries. In the seven matches I've seen this autumn, they haven't fielded the same 11 players once. Perhaps that means a lack of continuity for them, so the timing might be right to play them now."
Nonetheless Wolfsburg still have top players available including Pohlers and former Malmö stalwart Nilla Fischer, but then Eidevall can select the likes of German trio Mittag, Kathleen Radtke, Katrin Schmidt and in-form Ramona Bachmann. "We won pretty much all our autumn matches and we did so by using our own attacking abilities, not by relying on opponents making mistakes," said Eidevall.
Even so, the coach knows this stage of the UEFA Women's Champions League offers up opponents of a different class. "In the Damallsvenskan we can get away with playing well for only 60 minutes of each match, then take our foot off the pedal for the last 30. That possibility is not there now. The best teams in Europe will punish you if you do."
He concluded: "If we manage to get through this home and away tie, we've got a massive chance of winning the whole thing."
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