"Self-confident, but respectful"
This Wednesday, the VfL women will be in action in the UWCL 'Round of 16' in Florence.
With a great deal of self-confidence, but also respectful of their opponents, VfL head-coach Stephen Lerch and the Lady-Wolves face a Champions League 'Round of 16' first-leg task away to Italian side AC Fiorentina. On Wednesday, November 8th (19:00 CET), the Green-Whites will be looking to put themselves into the best possible position for the return-leg, next Wednesday (November 18th – 18:00 CET) at home in the AOK Stadion. "We want to play courageously and offensively," insisted Lerch at the pre-match press conference ahead of the ninety minutes at the revered Artemio Franchi stadium.
Anticipating the Artemio Franchi
"We are looking forward to what will hopefully be a very attractive game," commented Lerch, who sees an additional incentive in having the opportunity to play in the huge stadium, where the Serie A men from AC Fiorentina play their home games. "This amazing setting can influence the match and maybe unleash some extra power and energy." Lara Dickenmann is also very much looking forward to playing at the Artemio Franchi stadium: "I am always happy to play in a big, tradition-steeped stadium. That’s another of the good things about the Champions League." In the Tuscan capital, the promotional drum has been beating, to entice as many fans as possible to fill the ground.
"Every game must first be played"
The VfL coach is naturally well aware that his side are in the role of favourites, with the two-time title winners facing a Champions League debutant. Nonetheless, scrupulous preparation for the opponent is self-evident: "It’s a simple fact that every game must first be played," commented Lerch, who is expecting "a passionate Italian team, who will throw everything they have at us." Striker Ilaria Mauro, who previously plied her trade in the Bundesliga with SC Sand and Turbine Potsdam, will probably be the most familiar name within the Italian side for the German fans. However, the Lady-Wolves would be well-advised not to focus their attention on one individual, but rather concentrate on their own strengths, as Lerch and Dickenmann unanimously emphasised.
Jakabfi back in the fold
And those strengths are there in abundance – in spite of the current personnel problems. The Lady-Wolves made the trip to Tuscany with a provisional 20 player strong squad. The ill Jana Burmeister was replaced by talented young hopeful Manon Klett as a third keeper. Aside from Isabel Kerschowski (rehabilitation training), all vital members of the team are on board, including Zsanett Jakabfi, who was forced out of the 0-1 defeat to Freiburg at half-time with a muscular problem.