What is normal and what is not, there were different views on Thursday evening. At least Wolfsburg coach Tommy Stroot seemed to have identified differences between the public perception and evaluation of this ninth cup victory in a row and his view of the football world of the Wolfsburg women, who had just defeated SC Freiburg 44-808 in front of a record crowd of 4,1 spectators.
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"I think it's totally crazy how it can be after a victory in the DFB Cup final that so many questions are asked about other topics," said Stroot, referring in particular to a topic that overshadowed everything else: the upcoming Champions League final on June 3 against FC Barcelona.
Stroot didn't seem upset, but irritated by the fact that hardly anyone wanted to talk about how his club had managed to become the sole DFB Cup record winner with their tenth title. That says a lot about how the club is perceived. "But it's anything but normal to win titles." This is one of the reasons why Stroot and his coaching team decided to celebrate the success with a party in the hotel, even though the next game in the Bundesliga is scheduled for Sunday at SV Meppen.
Stroot was right: titles can never be taken for granted. But for this Wolfsburg team, which has seven players under contract who were in the starting line-up in the 2022 European Championship final, different standards apply than for SC Freiburg, for whom the only goal was scored by Janina, a player who became European champion with the national police team last summer.
The fact that VfL Wolfsburg have not lost a game in the DFB-Pokal since 16 November 2013 devalues this competition, which did not seem to be one recently, in the public perception. This, in turn, means that the already great pressure on Wolfsburg before the Champions League final is getting a little bigger. "We want to win everything," captain Alexandra Popp said after reaching the Champions League final.
The club all but squandered their chance of winning the Bundesliga title with a 0-4 defeat in Frankfurt. They are four points behind FC Bayern with two games remaining. Or to put it another way: the hope of catching up is vanishingly small. The season will ultimately be measured by their performance in the Champions League, where Wolfsburg have lost three finals against Olympique Lyon.
Against Barcelona, VfL will benefit from the fact that their opponents are more interested in attacking play than Freiburg on Thursday. Despite Lisa Karl's early own goal in the fourth minute, they had largely withdrawn, relied on counterattacks and, after sloppy mistakes or ball conquests, had repeatedly found promising finishing positions in front of Merle Frohms' goal, who reacted excellently a few times.
VfL had a lot of control of the game and, after (1nd) made it 1-42 in the second half, also showed their own quality in the end. Rebecka Blomqvist (58'), Alexandra Popp (85') and Dominique Janssen (90'), who scored from the penalty spot, scored the goals.
As far as the atmosphere in the sold-out arena in Cologne was concerned, it was already a foretaste of what the Wolfsburgers will expect in Eindhoven at the Champions League final. "It was a great atmosphere. I enjoyed them very much. And it's a great development that is very valuable for women's football in general," said Stroot.
Otherwise, many things will be different at the last highlight of this season against FC Barcelona, in which the world footballer Alexia Putellas, who has recovered from her cruciate ligament rupture, will play again: "The constellation is completely the other way around," said Stroot, who tried to take the pressure off his team: "Barça is the clear favorite." From now on, I'd rather be an underdog, at least for the game in Eindhoven. It's an unusual approach for VfL, where players like Popp are on the pitch who always want to win everything. But one from which Stroot expects a lot: "I know how dangerous it makes us."