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VfL Wolfsburg are the only one of this season's UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finalists not to have played at this stage before – but the omens are still pretty good.
The ambitious club are making their European debut, and of the four previous German sides to play in UEFA competition, three – 1. FFC Frankfurt, 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam and FCR 2001 Duisburg – lifted the trophy at the first time of asking.
Midfielder Nadine Kessler helped Potsdam win the inaugural season of the rebranded UEFA Women's Champions League in 2009/10 and made the following year's final in London before joining Wolfsburg. Despite a knee injury ruling her out of both legs, she spoke to UEFA.com ahead of Wednesday's quarter-final first leg at home to Russia's FC Rossiyanka.
UEFA.com: Wolfsburg have had a good debut so far ...
Nadine Kessler: Yes, I think that for a team participating in this competition for the first time we have played some good matches, and managed to get through the rounds pretty convincingly, and can't really complain. We are looking forward to our next opponents.
UEFA.com: How will you approach the Rossiyanka tie?
Kessler: We know that Russian teams are very strong, and are hard sides to play in general.
Rossiyanka have great individual players in their team, and are always good for a surprise. I think that they will be very well prepared for the tie against us, with their German coach. It will definitely be a hard tie.
UEFA.com: Do you know the team a bit? They played against Turbine Potsdam last season. Have you already analysed them on tape, or will you focus on that when you get close to the first leg?
Kessler: We will focus on it right before the match. But we are ready, we have gathered some information about them, and we will certainly watch some video clips of them.
UEFA.com: It has been a hard winter in Germany but you had a training camp in Portugal; how important was that?
Kessler: Portugal was very important for us, and for the team to grow together. The great conditions we had there were very positive for the players, you were looking forward to the great weather and you were really looking forward to playing football. At home we managed to get ourselves fit, but the playing elements had to stop here and there due to bad weather. In Portugal we managed to focus on it.
UEFA.com: How closely do you work with the men's team at Wolfsburg?
Kessler: We benefit a lot from being attached to the men's club. It is absolutely positive, and we are very grateful that we can use the training facilities and that we have a helping hand in the background which really supports us to achieve our sporting objectives. So the co-operation is just outstanding, and we are grateful for that.
UEFA.com: How closely do the two squads follow each other's progress?
Kessler: It's happened more and more recently. We try to be there for every home match of our men's team. We have our own season tickets. And yes, players from the men's team also come over to follow and support us strongly.
UEFA.com: What has your European experience with Potsdam and Wolfsburg given you?
Kessler: The Champions League is a very special competition. The feeling of being there in London or in Getafe with Potsdam was a special experience. This competition is organised superbly, it's special for the players. And I think you grow immensely personally. The experience you get is very important, and different to what you experience in the Bundesliga. I'm very happy to be playing in the Champions League now with Wolfsburg.
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