Ralf Kellermann is confident holders VfL Wolfsburg "can live up to our role as favourites" as they take on Tyresö FF, who Tony Gustavsson said showed their mettle in reaching Thursday's final.
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Holders VfL Wolfsburg put their UEFA Women's Champions League title on the line on Thursday against Tyresö FF – who like the German team 12 months ago have made the final at their first attempt.
The majority of the Wolfsburg side that dethroned Olympique Lyonnais 1-0 last year in London remain, including goalscorer Martina Müller, midfield pairing Nadine Kessler and Lena Goessling plus 48-goal all-time competition top scorer Conny Pohlers, in her last European game before retirement. But there is no shortage of experience in Tyresö's side, not least Marta, part of the last Swedish side to lift the trophy – Umeå IK, ten years ago.
In 2013 Wolfsburg outdid Lyon with a tight, counterattacking game, but coach Ralf Kellermann expects a different type of match this time. "We were hindered by bans and injuries and Lyon were too strong to try any other tactics," he said. "This year things are different. We will focus on counterattacks but not exclusively and will play a different game."
Kellermann was especially pleased with a 2-0 league win on Friday night against 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam, who they also knocked out in the semi-finals of this competition despite trailing twice in the home second leg. "Of course it was a boost to our confidence when you have a dress rehearsal against Potsdam and play so well," the coach said.
"We are confident because of last year's win. Things have changed slightly, our game has changed slightly partly as we have changed from being the chasers to the chased, but we have progressed. That is why I am confident we can live up to our role as favourites."
Tyresö are hopeful of having Verónica Boquete fit again after a hamstring problem, the Spain striker one of a number of stars leaving the financially stricken club after this campaign, including Marta, captain Caroline Seger and top scorer Christen Press. Still, coach Tony Gustavsson said: "As a coach you feel proud of the players when you as a coach have seen them putting down the work to come here.
"The fans and the media only see the 90 minutes on the pitch but when you see all the hours, days, weeks, months, years of hard work, sacrifice, sweat, muscle pain, tears, joy... Now they are in the final for which you have worked so hard, as a coach you are proud of and happy for the players."
Of their recent off-field troubles, he added: "[Wolfsburg] are naturally the favourites; us losing nine players in the winter window, losing some staff as well for financial reasons, and the organisation has been turbulent. But these players have shown some unbelievable strength in coming together and performing the way they have. We might be underdogs but we know what we can do when we reach our best level. It is the first time since I've been Tyresö coach that we have been underdogs."
Gustavsson also had a word for Marta. "What has not come out enough in the media is her personality, her way of bringing this team together," he said. "She spreads joy in this team. It is an privilege to work with her as a player but even more as a person."