It is hardly surprising the spotlight is on Lotta Schelin right now. Not only leading the line for Olympique Lyonnais as they stride towards a UEFA Women's Champions League hat-trick, Schelin is set to start up front for hosts Sweden at UEFA Women's EURO 2013 this July – and indeed is venue ambassador for Gothenburg, where the home side open the finals against Denmark in 100 days' time. Schelin, 29, spoke to UEFA.com about Sweden's ambitions and how the game is developing.
UEFA.com: How is the mood in Sweden ahead of the finals?
Lotta Schelin: Very good, and of course you want the interest in the tournament to be as great as possible. I think it is working really well right now – there are lots of tickets being sold, and it's going to be great.
UEFA.com: What do you think is the key to success in the tournament?
Schelin: It's important to go into it as prepared as possible – in your top form, that's what counts. We might be very good beforehand, but it's the weeks in July that count the most, and it's important that everyone is in the best form possible. Preparation is playing a lot together and getting the team working together. In the end it's important that everyone is at their best.
UEFA.com: What does it mean to you to be playing in these finals?
Schelin: It means a lot. Every time you play in a big tournament it's very intense, and it's an experience I wouldn't be without. This time we will experience a tournament at home, and that's fantastic. It's feels great and very motivating, and it really does feel like we have a great chance to do something.
UEFA.com: What has it been like under new coach Pia Sundhage?
Schelin: It's been good, of course. She's made sure that she gets many players along for each gathering, as many as possible. It feels very good, even if everyone may be unsure about their role right here and now. There's a positive vibe in the squad, and in the team as well I know everyone is giving themselves 100% – it's great.
UEFA.com: Are there any specific things you can say have changed from before?
Schelin: Well, always, when you change the management and new people come in, of course a lot is going to change. But I think it's interesting, and something in Pia's favour, that she can be cool, relaxed. But on the pitch it's all about focusing completely on what you are doing. On the pitch she is very clear about who's doing what, and what she wants out of it. I think that's super great. She's capable of pointing out the best in every player.
UEFA.com: What do you think of the teams in your group: Denmark, Finland and Italy?
Schelin: Ranking-wise we are best, and I can't say anything other than that we want to go through from the group as winners. But they're good teams. We are facing Denmark in the opening game, and meeting Denmark is like playing a local derby. So is Finland actually. We will be facing opponents that want to beat us, naturally. I mean, it feels like a strong group but we have to try and win it.
UEFA.com: Germany have won the last five finals – are they a cut above everybody else?
Schelin: They have a very strong player base in Germany, so there's nothing strange about that. They are incredibly strong, they have a lot of very good players, and as a team they are fantastic – they have very experienced internationals on the bench. But of course they are not unstoppable, and that's positive. I've seen matches where they've been playing France and they were even, France playing very well. You don't get the impression that Germany are unstoppable as it used to be, and that's positive.
UEFA.com: How do you think women's football has developed, tactically, technically and physically?
Schelin: It's constantly developing. The range of talent is constantly increasing, and when that happens it affects the top as well. I think we have a high standard now, both nationally and internationally. There's such a big difference from when I started, when you look at training facilities, at everything, and if you get better conditions, and more time to play football without having to work as well, then the game evolves. Of course the development has been incredible all round. Even though I think football was great when I was a child, it's evolved into something broader with better and better teams around the world, and that's why it's at such a high standard.
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