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Having knocked out German opposition for the first time this season, Arsenal LFC are hoping for a repeat when VfL Wolfsburg come to Borehamwood for Sunday's UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final first leg.
Arsenal may be at this stage for the sixth time in 11 campaigns, but they have made only one final – winning in 2007 – and had drawn a blank against sides from the Frauen Bundesliga until eliminating 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam in the round of 16 in November. Wolfsburg, by contrast, are European debutants but so were 1. FFC Frankfurt, Potsdam and FCR 2001 Duisburg when they all took the title to Germany – and Ralf Kellerman's team are seven points clear at the league summit following Wednesday's 6-0 win at VfL Sindelfingen.
The Gunners themselves are fresh from a 6-0 victory, overwhelming FA Women's Cup holders Birmingham City LFC in Tuesday's quarter-final, continuing their blistering start to life under new manager Shelley Kerr. "I hit home all the time that you have to build foundations," she told Arsenal's website.
"In the last three games we've had, we haven't conceded a goal and that's a real starting point. The girls know it's important not to concede because it gives you that platform on which to attack. It gives you confidence to score goals in all areas of the pitch."
Defender Ciara Grant is suspended and midfielder Kelly Smith is an injury doubt, but up front Ellen White scored twice against Birmingham and knows Arsenal have to make the most of home advantage. "We all love playing at Borehamwood," she said. "Hopefully it can be a fortress this season. It may benefit us playing at home first. We want to put in a positive performance and take a good result to Germany."
Wolfsburg realise this is their toughest European test yet, but forward Alexandra Popp, who already helped Duisburg triumph on their 2008/09 debut, said: "All German teams have won the Champions League in their first participation. That does sound very promising!"
Holders Olympique Lyonnais have beaten Potsdam and Frankfurt in the last two finals and many expect the French champions to be up against a third German side, Wolfsburg, on 23 May at Stamford Bridge. However, coach Kellerman is not looking beyond Sunday's trip to the English capital, for which defender Ivonne Hartmann and midfielder Zsanett Jakabfi are missing.
"We have prepared well by watching lots of videos," he said. "But this has confirmed they are a tough nut to crack. Their strength lies clearly in their attack, this will be a very hard task for our defence. It will be an even match. We will first and foremost strengthen our defence and not go full pelt. I am hoping for a fully focused performance by my team."
Sightseeing is out. "The players can take a look at London after the final – that's additional motivation!" Kellerman added.
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