Djurgården/Älvsjö have suffered another injury blow ahead of the first leg of the UEFA Women's Cup final.
By Andreas Alf
Djurgården/Älvsjö have suffered another injury blow in the lead-up to the first leg of the UEFA Women's Cup final against 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam in Stockholm, with Victoria Svensson ruled out of the encounter due to a thigh injury.
The Swedish international will now watch from the sidelines alongside strike partner Sara Johansson, who has already been ruled out with a muscle problem. In addition, forward Laura Kalmari cannot play as she has already represented Umeå IK this season in Europe.
Nevertheless, coach Mikael Söderman is still confident that his side can get a good result on home soil. "It's very sad to have lost two important players," he told uefa.com. "But I believe in my team and I'm convinced our squad is strong enough to compensate for the two absentees."
Svensson's injury means that American youngster Venus James, herself only recently recovered from illness, is the side's only fit, recognised striker. But Potsdam coach Bernd Schröder is keen his side avoid becoming complacent. "Whenever [in previous games] we knew our opponents were without key players, we've tended to take it a little too easy," he admitted.
"Any of the top teams in Sweden are always very tough to play. Djurgården/Älvsjö have got lots of players with high potential, huge talent and a lot of experience. And they are getting better match by match because their season has just started."
The German side have been less consistant in their own domestic league but Schröder says he will not alter his formation. "Our performances have ranged from world-class to district-class lately," the Potsdam coach said. "But we will still play a 4-3-3 formation. We always play like that, no matter how strong our opponents are. My team is the one to dominate - we do not change anything because of the other team."
Schröder has the luxury of naming a full-strength lineup. Petra Wimbersky and Britta Carlsson had been doubtful with ankle injuries but have been passed fit as Turbine attempt to maintain their unbeaten record in this season's European campaign.
That run has been marked by a free-scoring style, including a 7-1 semi-final aggregate win against SK Trondheims-Ørn, but Söderman believes Sunday's match could be a tighter affair. "We will see two very attacking teams facing each other," he said. "My bet is that both sides will show so much respect for each other's fire-power that the focus will finally be on defending and only a few goals will decide who wins."
'Affair of honour'
But there is one thing that both coaches are in agreement on - the match at the Stockholms stadium, which will be witnessed by UEFA President Lennart Johansson, will be a historical moment for both clubs. Söderman believes: "this chance to represent Sweden in a final on the European stage might not happen a second time", while Schröder describes the final as "an affair of honour".