"The more people you know, the more exciting it gets," Austria goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger tells UEFA.com ahead of an all-too personal quarter-final meeting with Germany.
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As Germany take on Austria in Thursday's Women's EURO 2022 quarter-final in London, much more than a language and a land border connects the two teams. Of the 23 members of Austria's squad, 14 are currently registered with clubs in Germany with a further six having done so previously.
One way or another, there is precious little the teams will not know about each other. But, for Manuela Zinsberger, that is not necessarily a bad thing. "The more people you know, the more exciting it gets," said the Austria goalkeeper, who spent five years at Bayern, winning German titles in 2014/15 and 2015/16.
As the teams line up on Thursday, there could be as many as eight Eintracht Frankfurt players involved, divided equally between Germany and Austria, while there are also eight Bayern players in the two squads, with significant Austrian presences at both Köln and Hoffenheim as well.
Striker Nicole Billa, whose header against Norway took Austria to the last eight, is part of that Hoffenheim contingent. She played for the club in the 2021/22 UEFA Women's Champions League, scoring three goals across six group stages matches, having ended the 2020/21 season as the Frauen Bundesliga's 23-goal top scorer and Player of the Season.
However, if she is extra fired-up at the prospect of a head-to-head meeting with some familiar opponents, Billa was keeping her cool when she spoke to UEFA.com. "I'm happy to play against Germany, and players who I know very well," she explained. "Of course, you know them very well and know their strengths, but they know yours as well. I think it's cool to experience that."
Germany come into the game as clear favourites in what is the sides' first competitive meeting (their previous encounters, two friendlies, both went Germany's way), but when it comes to the quarter-finals, the prospect of a first win against their neighbours does not seem to be a significant motivating factor.
"Having reached the quarter-finals, you want more," said Billa. "It would be wrong to say [there's more motivation about facing Germany] because we're all professional athletes: the motivation is always high anyway." Zinsberger added: "If I needed any extra motivation for a quarter-final or during a EURO, I would seriously doubt my passion as a footballer."
Austria's Frauen Bundesliga contingent
Currently in Germany
Nicole Billa (Hoffenheim, 2015–)
Celina Degen (Hoffenheim 2020–22, Köln 2022–)
Barbara Dunst (Leverkusen 2017, Duisburg 2017–19, Eintracht Frankfurt 2019–)
Laura Feiersinger (Herforder SV 2010–11, Bayern 2011–16, Sand 2016–18, Eintracht Frankfurt 2018–)
Marina Georgieva (Turbine Potsdam 2017–18, Sand 2018–)
Verena Hanshaw (Herforder SV 2010–11, Freiburg 2014–16, Sand 2016–18, Eintracht Frankfurt 2018–)
Julia Hickelsberger-Füller (Hoffenheim 2022–)
Marie-Therese Höbinger (Turbine Potsdam 2019–)
Virginia Kirchberger (Bayern II 2009–11, Duisburg 2014–15 & 2016–18, Köln 2015–16, Freiburg 2018–20, Eintracht Frankfurt 2020–)
Katharina Naschenweng (Hoffenheim 2018–)
Jasmin Pal (Sand 2020–22, Köln 2022–)
Sarah Puntigam (Bayern 2009–13, Freiburg 2014–18, Köln 2022–)
Katharina Schiechtl (Werder Bremen 2013–)
Sarah Zadrazil (Turbine Potsdam 2016–20, Bayern 2020–)
Previously in Germany
Jasmin Eder (Bayern II 2009–11, Sindelfingen 2012–13)
Lisa Makas (Freiburg 2015–16, Duisburg 2016–20)
Viktoria Schnaderbeck (Bayern 2010–18)
Carina Wenninger (Bayern 2008–, currently on loan at Roma)
Laura Wienroither (Hoffenheim 2018–22)
Manuela Zinsberger (Bayern 2014–19)