While German rivals 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam and VfL Wolfsburg wish they were meeting in a final rather than semi, both teams agree an exciting tie is in prospect.
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"It is almost like a highly-anticipated final," is something the coaches and players of 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam and VfL Wolfsburg agree on as the German rivals prepare to meet in Saturday's UEFA Women's Champions League last-four first leg.
Potsdam, who won both previous all-German semi-finals against FCR 2001 Duisburg in 2010 and 2011, host the first leg and captain Stefanie Draws said: "It's a bit of a shame that both German teams have to play against each other before the final." Conny Pohlers, a 2005 winner with Potsdam before further triumphs with 1. FFC Frankfurt three years later and her current club VfL Wolfsburg last season, added: "Unfortunately we have to play against each other already. It's a bit annoying."
Still, their meeting ensures a German finalist for the seventh successive season, with Potsdam hoping to reach a joint-record fifth decider and claim a third title, while Wolfsburg lifted the trophy at the first attempt as part of a treble last term. Despite their unbeaten European record, Wolfsburg coach Ralf Kellermann denies his club are favourites, feeling both teams are on a "level playing field".
They drew 1-1 in the league in Potsdam, "although we should have won after dominating the second half," argues Kellermann. "If we can display those virtues on the pitch again, then we have a good chance to be successful on Saturday."
Potsdam lead the way in the league, four points ahead of third-placed Wolfsburg. Nevertheless, Draws insists: "Wolfsburg are the favourites really. After all, they won everything a year ago. [But] they're under more pressure as they're defending the title. Now we want to get to the final."
That is something Pohlers, the 48-goal all-time competition leading scorer, would like to do in a season she this week confirmed would be her last. Of her former club Turbine, she mused: "They can run and run for 90 minutes and more. Run, fight and play positively – that is the Potsdam way. That's difficult to play against. Perhaps it's a slight advantage to play the second leg at home. At any rate, both games will be very tight."
Having been part of a team that surprised Olympique Lyonnais in the round of 16 despite a home first-leg defeat, Draws is hoping for a better opening result on Saturday but does not think the tie will be decided by the game. "We have our fans behind us first and they will spur us on – that's good," she said. "Then we have to go to Wolfsburg, which I don't see as being a problem. We've already shown against Lyon what we're capable of when we don't play the second match at home."