Four years ago Spain went into their UEFA European Women's Championship play-off against the Netherlands as favourites – and lost both legs 2-0. Sonia Bermúdez is determined that will not happen again against Scotland.
On Saturday, Spain visit Hampden Park for the first leg before the return four days later in Las Rozas, when they hope to be celebrating cementing a place at UEFA Women's EURO 2013. They last qualified in 1997 when they went all the way to the semi-finals.
That was the stage the Netherlands reached in 2009 after earning a tournament debut by defeating Spain; Sonia played in that tie and was central to them this time finishing second in their group behind Germany, missing out on qualifying automatically as best runners-up after losing 4-3 in Switzerland in June. The FC Barcelona striker speaks to UEFA.com about not underestimating Scotland.
UEFA.com: How do you see the tie against Scotland.
Sonia Bermúdez: It will be very difficult. They say that Scotland are one of the weakest teams in the play-offs, but I don't see it that way. I think they're here because they deserve it. I think it will be difficult, but we have a lot of hope for this play-off, and I hope this season we'll be playing at the EURO.
UEFA.com: Four years ago, you lost in the play-offs against the Netherlands. What did you learn from that experience?
Sonia: With the Netherlands, people also said they were a weak team and that we were the favourites. We've learned that even though people call Scotland minnows, they are here for a reason. We know this is our last chance to qualify for the EURO, and we know that it will be very difficult.
UEFA.com: The qualifying group was a bit disappointing in the end. How would you describe what happened?
Sonia: Well, I think we had a very difficult group. We had to play Germany, and we drew against them at home. They are a very strong team, and in fact that point was what we wanted.
We failed in the game against Switzerland. If Switzerland had not won it, we would have qualified directly. But that's behind us now. There is nothing we can do about it any more. We have to focus on the play-off against Scotland, and the team and the squad are very much looking forward to the game.
UEFA.com: The draw against Germany was a result that nobody expected. How do you look back on that?
Sonia: I don't know – I cannot describe it. They've won many European titles and have played at World Cups. They are real professionals. And we managed to draw against them. Honestly, we know they're a different class, so drawing against them feels like winning a trophy for us.
UEFA.com: The Spanish men's team has had a lot of success. Does this put pressure on the women?
Sonia: No. People know the difference between men and women's football. When they talk about Spain, they think about Xavi, Iniesta, Villa, and this also happens at Barcelona, but that's also a good thing; people only need to hear those names. These things only encourage us to improve with our Spain team. And I hope that this year, with the EURO, we can give people something to celebrate.
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