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Wolfsburg fluff their lines in Champions League semifinal

  • April 24, 2023

After the opening 25 minutes, 2-0 up and swarming all over their opponents, Wolfsburg looked like they were going to punch their ticket for the Champions League final.

Inexplicably, despite all of their dominance in the opening exchanges of the first leg of the semifinal against Arsenal, the German champions walked away from the match with a deflating draw.

The equalizer felt like all the air being let out of a balloon as the 22, 617 fans within the Volkswagen Arena fell silent, save for the travelling contingent. Goalscorer Sveindis Jane Jonsdottir admitted her side lost concentration after taking an early lead.

“The first 20 or so minutes were great from us but from then on I don’t know what happened,” Jonsdottir told DW. “We just fell down. We were 2-0 and we thought we were comfortable, and they attacked because of that.”

“I feel disappointed because after being 2-0 up, we shouldn’t have allowed two goals to be scored against us on our home pitch.”

“Their first goal came from a corner and we just have to defend better there. I thought we had control of the game, they didn’t really have that many chances, and we had many more where we should have scored and killed the game a lot earlier.”

“In the next game [second leg] we need to be more concentrated throughout the 90 minutes.”

And, goalkeeper Merle Frohms cut an equally downtrodden figure in the immediate aftermath, adding: “It feels like a defeat now in the first moment. There is a lot of disappointment, but we did a lot of things right. We are capable of beating Arsenal.”

Experience will be key at rowdy Emirates

Having let slip their golden opportunity to put the tie to bed, Wolfsburg face a stern test to progress to the final in front of an expected 50,000 spectators at the Emirates on May 1.

The Shewolves’ previous experiences in front of huge, noisy away crowds has not always ended positively.

For the first half an hour of the quarterfinal clash against Paris Saint Germain, the team looked totally overwhelmed and required a mid-game huddle – during an injury break – to reset and take a hold of proceedings.

Last season, in front of 91,000 fans at the Camp Nou, things turned sour quickly, as they fell 4-0 down within 38 minutes of their semifinal first leg and were never able to recover.

With another daunting away trip quickly approaching in London, Jonsdottir is confident that the previous experiences will stand the team in good stead to not get dazed by the occasion.

Sveindis Jonsdottir celebrates her goal
Sveindis Jonsdottir was disappointed at how Wolfsburg switched offImage: regios24/IMAGO

“We carry the experience from being overwhelmed with us. At the Camp Nou when we played Barcelona, we got a little stressed at the beginning and it affected us.

“But we have many experienced players that have played in good atmospheres, and this is a really great opportunity for us.

“It’s a legendary pitch, we’re really excited, and we know we have the quality to win.”

The last disappointment Wolfsburg faced, losing 1-0 to title-rivals Bayern Munich in the league, which saw them drop to second place was met with an impressive reaction – a thumping 5-0 away victory in their German Cup semifinal against the same opponents.

And Jonsdottir is confident that the side will be able to replicate that positive turn around against Arsenal too.

“In the league we lost that game against Bayern and there was a negative feeling,” she said. But then two weeks later we had an amazing reaction and performance also away from home.”

“So we have to do the same again now. We will be ready. We will do much better in that game and come home with the win.”

Attendance record set

And, on a day when a Women’s Bundesliga-record 38,365 spectators filled the RheinEnergieStadion for Cologne’s match against Eintracht Frankfurt, Wolfsburg manager Tommy Stroot put aside his disappointment at the result to acknowledge the health of the women’s game in Germany.

The crowd look on at a Cologne match
A new Bundesliga attendance record was set in Cologne on SundayImage: Ralf Treese/DeFodi Images/picture alliance

“It is an outstanding situation, with 55,000 spectators between two matches in Wolfsburg and Cologne,” he said.

“It’s an exceptional day and it is highlighting the excellent situation for women’s football in Germany at the moment. We try to fill the entire situation with life and entice people to keep coming to the stadium.”

Wolfsburg will be hoping that, come May 1 in north London, the Emirates stadium will be filled with near-silence.

Edited by: Matt Pearson

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