Alex Popp on the Wolfsburg vs Lyon final

Wolfsburg captain Alex Popp looks ahead to Sunday's UEFA Women's Champions League decider.

Watch: Popp and Lerch on Wolfsburg bid for third title
Watch: Popp and Lerch on Wolfsburg bid for third title

Only one Wolfsburg player has been on the pitch for all seven of their previous UEFA Women's Champions League encounters with Lyon – Alex Popp.

The one-time full-back and striker, who now holds the midfield for the perennial German champions, is aiming for her fourth final win, having triumphed with Wolfsburg in 2013 (against Lyon) and 2014 as well as at Duisburg in 2009. One of only four women with more than 75 UEFA club appearances, at the age of 29, Popp has also experienced European defeat by Lyon over four straight seasons, including the finals of 2016 and 2018 (when she was sent off with Wolfsburg leading in extra time). She looked ahead to Sunday's San Sebastián decider.

Semi-final highlights: Wolfsburg 1-0 Barcelona
Semi-final highlights: Wolfsburg 1-0 Barcelona

On the tough semi-final win against Barcelona …

I think that may be in part attributed to the German mentality, which we’ve also infused in our non-German players as well. But the individual characters we have just possess incredible winning mentalities, so it just works like that. And for us to then be such a powerful team unit behind the ball and to be so committed in the tackles that we could win the game, that just increases the happiness of winning.

On Lyon …

They’re the number one in Europe and we obviously want to put a stop to that. Lyon have very good attacking quality, they’re very flexible, especially with the playmakers in midfield, Dzsenifer Marozsán and Amandine Henry, who really lead the play. They’re always dangerous – it feels like you don’t see some of these players for 90 minutes, then in the 91st minute they’re there and are extremely dangerous. And Wendie Renard at the back, as the captain in the back four, she has a lot of experience and radiates a calmness and holds the defensive structure together.

UEFA Women's Champions League final highlights: Wolfsburg 1-4 Lyon (AET)
UEFA Women's Champions League final highlights: Wolfsburg 1-4 Lyon (AET)

On what has changed since the 2018 final loss to Lyon …

I think we’ve developed immensely. We’ve become a lot more consistent in our performances, which you could see in the past years in the Bundesliga as well as in the cup, where we’ve always produced very high quality. This season as well: I don’t think we’ve had a season as strong as this year. And that gives us the confidence to go again in the Champions League final. We stated at the start of the year that our target was to win the Champions League.

2013 final highlights: Wolfsburg 1-0 Lyon
2013 final highlights: Wolfsburg 1-0 Lyon

On winning the competition …

It feels incredible. To win an international title at the highest level and especially at the highest club level in Europe really is something very special. We obviously want to achieve that again and I hope we succeed in doing so on Sunday.

On Wolfsburg being able to complete their season from May to July …

I do believe that resulted in a small advantage for us because we were in the rhythm of matches and you know the situation. On the other hand, we only had a very short phase of integrating the new players into the team, a very short preparation period to be growing together as a team. But I do think we managed that very well in the short time, and I am confident that this is only going to do us good regarding the upcoming match, the final.

Most Likely To... Wolfsburg
Most Likely To... Wolfsburg

On how she has developed over her years at Wolfsburg…

You’d have to ask the others! But I think I’ve become an even stronger leader, and since this season I’ve been one of the three members of the club’s captain group. My way of playing has of course changed as well, due to the fact I am now more often in defensive midfield so I now pull the strings a bit more. Aside from that, what distinguishes me is my mindset which I can use to motivate the rest of the team and that’s what has evolved the most.

On the final eight format …

It makes it all very interesting, because either team can get a lucky break at any point. And I think you could see during the men’s games, but also in ours, that the games have been very intense and played at a fast pace because the teams know that this one game is decisive. And therefore, you have to give everything, which makes the whole thing very interesting and luckily, we were able to win both of our games so far.