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Women’s football: National coach Horst Hrubesch – “There has to be a change”

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Women’s football: National coach Horst Hrubesch – “There has to be a change”

The German women’s national soccer team has to compete against France in the semifinals of the Nations League next Friday (9 p.m.). The DFB team would have secured their Olympic ticket with a win in Lyon. The two finalists qualify for Paris alongside hosts France.

Should the French defeat the German team, the third team would also be there and the DFB selection would have a second chance on February 28th against the loser of the game between world champions Spain and the Netherlands. “For me the focus is clearly on this first game,” said national coach Horst Hrubesch. The 72-year-old definitely wants to experience the Olympics again. The spectacle begins on July 26th.

The Hamburg striker idol took over the position at the beginning of October for the second time since 2018 after the DFB separated from national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg. For the DFB women, the new Nations League round begins in April with qualification for the 2025 European Championship in Switzerland. This would be the next international tournament for the European runners-up if they miss the games in Paris.

Ask: Mr. Hrubesch, Wolfsburg’s women failed in the Champions League against Paris FC, Bayern against Paris St. Germain. You and the national team will play against France on February 23rd for the Olympic ticket. How do you break the French curse?

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Horst Hrubesch: There is no curse. Bayern were at eye level and even dominated. The French women always have good individual players, are well trained and physically strong. But we are stronger as a team. We have to take away their individual class. The chances are 50/50.

Ask: They wanted France in the draw because if they lost to the Olympic hosts, Germany would still have a final to qualify for Paris. Does that take the pressure off?

Hrubesch: I want to win the Nations League. We already had a final in the group stage against Denmark, which we won. So we can handle pressure and want to make it clear against France.

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Ask: You were at the Olympics with the men in 2016 and won silver. What significance does the Olympics have for you?

Hrubesch: When I went to the circus as a child, my eyes were always wide open. This was incredibly exciting for me and I didn’t even know where to look first. At the Olympics the feeling is the same: When you’re in the Olympic village, world stars walk past you, then you chat with a canoeist, all the world‘s religions pray next to each other, there are flags hanging everywhere. The Olympics ground and change people. But the girls can rave about it themselves.

Hrubesch and his team in 2016 after the final defeat (5:4 on penalties) at the Olympics against hosts Brazil

Source: picture alliance/SvenSimon/Anke Waelischmiller/SVEN SIMON

Ask: What do you mean?

Hrubesch: Before the 2016 Olympics, I and the men had an evening with the German female soccer players. They explained to us what the Olympics were because they had already been there. And with Alexandra Popp, Sara Däbritz and Svenja Huth, we have three players on the team who won gold in 2016…

Ask: What would it mean to you to be the first coach to be at the Olympics with both men and women?

Hrubesch: I would like to experience it again. It was also clear from the start that I would stay as coach until the tournament if we made it. After the Olympics, my coaching career will definitely be over.

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Ask: If the Olympics don’t work out, will you quit immediately?

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Hrubesch: This is what is planned through the discussions with the DFB and my main employer HSV, yes.

Ask: Nia Künzer has been DFB director for women’s football since January. What is your first impression?

Hrubesch: She knows it’s a mammoth task. She’s still forming her own picture of everything. One thing is clear: things have to change.

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Ask: How will the team change?

Hrubesch: There has to be a change. On the other hand, you also need experienced players to guide talent. It is important that our talents are used, including in the league – and immediately. For the men, we talked about “rumble football” in 2000 and then it took a while until we had a strong team again. We have to prevent women from making this mistake.

Ask: Last summer, the DFB team was eliminated for the first time in the preliminary round of the World Cup, and no German club is in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. This has never happened before. Is German women’s football only second class?

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Hrubesch: Nonsense! This is not a crisis either, because we are not vastly outnumbered. It was a one-time exception. Our teams have the necessary quality. We will give the appropriate answer.

Ask: Many national players go abroad. Is that good or bad?

Hrubesch: Both. I see the opportunities – also for the league. Many players from abroad come to the Bundesliga. That strengthens everyone. And when one or the other goes abroad, it shows how good and sought after they are. The trend in women’s football is currently picking up speed. Maybe one or other country currently drives at five km/h more than us. We can catch up if we strengthen the league. But it’s not about how Wolfsburg or Bayern get more money to keep up with Barcelona or Lyon. It’s about structures that attract players to Germany or keep them here and develop them perfectly.

Ask: What do you say to top talents like Lena Oberdorf or Jule Brand when offers come from abroad?

Hrubesch: If she is convinced that she will feel comfortable there and get a regular place, I wouldn’t want to talk her out of it. The drive must always come from the player herself – not from the advisor and not from her wallet.

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Ask: Can you do without the older but currently best players like Popp, Svenja Huth or Marina Hegering?

Hrubesch: They don’t have to if they don’t want to. Why should a trainer forego the strengths of Poppi or Svenja? They can play for years if they want. Ideally, a young player will be better at some point and take the place from the older ones.

The interview was conducted for the Sports Competence Center (WELT, SPORT BILD, BILD) and first published in BILD AM SONNTAG.

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