Something odd happened in the summer of 2011 – Germany failed to win a major women's football tournament.
Hosts of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, they exited in the quarter-finals, the first time they had been unable to lift either that trophy or the European title in a decade. Germany made amends at UEFA Women's EURO 2013, however, bringing on a new generation including VfL Wolfsburg's midfield general Nadine Kessler.
Celebrating her 26th birthday today, Kessler has continued to run matters in the middle as Germany have started 2015 World Cup qualifying with five wins and 40 unanswered goals, and last month landed the Algarve Cup. As Germany visit the Republic of Ireland in Group 1 on Saturday, knowing victory would leave them close to a berth in Canada, Kessler spoke to UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: World Cup qualifying is going well so far ...
Nadine Kessler: Absolutely. We've really managed to keep up the momentum from the EURO. We are very strong as a team and I think people can see that from outside. The results are pretty clear, although our opponents were weaker teams, but you still have to win those matches. It was hard work, we are happy with what we've achieved, but we have to continue to keep up that momentum.
UEFA.com: The 9-0 win against second seeds Russia in your opening qualifier was important in that respect ...
Kessler: Yes, as it was difficult to see where we stood after that huge success last summer. The Russians had also played a good EURO, they had a strong team, so they were and are the strongest opponents in our group. So that was an absolute top match, and to achieve such a clear result in that first match, you couldn't really expect that.
UEFA.com: After being eliminated in the last eight in 2011, is it a motivation to show people that the team are still strong enough to make it past a World Cup quarter-final in Canada – and therefore make amends?
Kessler: I think the team are really looking forward to that tournament, even now you can already feel that. But there is still some time to go. We have something to make up for, but I think you already have the motivation without thinking about the past.
UEFA.com: The number of teams has been increased to 24 for the World Cup, and to 16 for UEFA Women's EURO 2017. How do you see that?
Kessler: I think you could already see at the last EURO that more teams managed to make it into the group of favourites, that there are just more teams playing an important role, playing better and more convincing football. So for me that was a logical step.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.