There could be three players from two-time European champions 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam involved in Sunday's UEFA Women's EURO 2013 final – but only one from Germany.
While Potsdam's Jennifer Cramer should line up in the Germany defence, the six-time Frauen Bundesliga title winners boast two Norway players in the shape of young forward Ada Hegerberg and 23-year-old defender Maren Mjelde. One of the four Norway players who converted in the semi-final shoot-out defeat of Norway, Mjelde spoke to UEFA.com about that dramatic encounter, the showdown with Germany in Solna and her nation's knack of peaking when it matters.
UEFA.com: Let's start with the semi-final shoot-out: Even Pellerud said he was confident you would score your penalty because of your calmness...
Maren Mjelde: I like doing it, actually. I was convinced I was going to score.
UEFA.com: How did it feel when you saw Trine Rønning’s penalty go in and you realised you were in the final?
Mjelde: Just before Trine went over towards the goal, I actually said to Solveig [Gulbrandsen]: "She is made for moments like these, isn't she?" Solveig never answered, so I told her: "You have to say yes now!" Trine and I are made for situations like these, and I knew we were going to score so it was fabulous to see the ball go into the net.
UEFA.com: Did you think you would make it this far before the tournament started?
Mjelde: We knew beforehand, because of our previous results, that we could end up in a EURO final. We believed it more and more as the tournament progressed, and after the Germany game, we believed in a final.
UEFA.com: Why do Norway always seem to be at their best at final tournaments?
Mjelde: We are best when it's necessary. Everyone has felt they've been part of it, participated. It's been easy for the young players, and we have players who have been in other big tournaments before.
UEFA.com: What difference has Pellerud's return made?
Mjelde: We've had a strong feeling in the group. And our coach demands quite a lot from us, both on and off the pitch.
UEFA.com: How much are you now looking forward to playing Germany?
Mjelde: I'm very much looking forward to it. It will be the second match against Germany in this tournament, and it would be very cool if it was us who got the EURO trophy.
UEFA.com: You beat them in the group stage – you were the captain. That must make you confident that you can beat them again?
Mjelde: We beat Germany for the first time in I don't know how many years, and we do believe it can happen again. We just have to do it again.
UEFA.com: What do you think Germany's main strengths are?
Mjelde: I think they are like a well-oiled machine; they are great physically, strong, with many skilled individuals, and it's going to be tough.
UEFA.com: You play your club football in Potsdam. Does that make it extra special that you're playing Germany in the final?
Mjelde: Yes, certainly. It's going to be quite special. Germany is a special country to play against. It would be great to come back to Potsdam after having beat Germany.
UEFA.com: Jennifer Cramer has made a real breakthrough at this tournament; playing alongside her at Potsdam, did you expect this?
Mjelde: Yes, she's been improving all the time. She joined the team in the Algarve Cup [in March] and got to play a bit, and after that she simply got better and better. She's good at most things, good crosses, very good.
UEFA.com: Your group stage victory against Germany was in Kalmar and this game is in Solna. How much are you looking forward to playing in such a big stadium?
Mjelde: It's going to be a huge experience. It's the first and last time I'll be playing in front of so many people; well, maybe not the last, but it's great. It hasn't really dawned on me yet. I think it will when I run onto the pitch, with so many people.
UEFA.com: It's been 20 years since you won it. What would it mean to Norway to win the competition?
Mjelde: It would mean a lot, of course; it hasn't been easy. Two years ago it was the [FIFA Women's] World Cup, and it's not good for Norway if they're not doing well. But now it's better, and we see a lot of new talents appearing. We have already proved that we belong at the top, which is good for Norway.
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