Lingor hungry for more

For a good few years now, no-one has been able to turn a top women's football match on its head quite like Renate Lingor. The playmaker boasts exquisite ball control and is the one who pulls the strings in midfield for world champions Germany. This will again be the case in China, where the 31-year-old will be using all the technique, vision and experience gained over 130 internationals to try and propel Silvia Neid's charges to victory. Lingor could certainly be one of the stand-out players at this, the most prestigious of women's tournaments. She sat down for an exclusive interview with The FIFA Women's World Cup is about to kick off and Argentina will be Germany's first opponents. Is the tension building?
Renate Lingor:
It is building up, as the opening match of a tournament is always important. The Argentinians have improved beyond all measure and will be tough to play against. Four years ago, we beat them 6-1 at the World Cup in USA, but we can't use that as a reference. Since then, they have beaten Brazil and they are the current South American champions, which says a lot about their strengths.

And how strong are the current world champions? Do you think that you can defend your title?
I think that we're looking in good form. We certainly feel good. Despite that, things are different from 2003 when we won the title. Now we're the ones at the top that the others will be looking to shoot down. USA are obviously among the favourites, but everyone is expecting a really good World Cup from us. Four years ago, we took a few people by surprise but that won't be possible this time around.

Is it an advantage or a disadvantage that many ofGermany's best players are around 30 years old?
It's difficult to say, but what I do know is that we've got some great up-and-coming players who are desperate to have a good tournament. Our real strength is that our team doesn't live or die by the performances of Birgit Prinz or Renate Lingor. We've got lots of players who can change the course of a match. I see my role as a guide to the younger players.

Nevertheless, you are still seen asGermany's playmaker, the driving force behind the defending champions inChina.
I've actually got a different role in the team now. On the one hand, I'm happy to take responsibilities for the younger players both on and off the pitch, while on the other I'm playing in a slightly different position. At the 2003 World Cup I was playing a lot more defensively while Bettina Wiegmann and Maren Meinert were more the playmakers. Now that's become my role. I'm happy in either position actually, but as I mentioned, our play doesn't revolve solely around Prinz or Lingor, and that's what makes us so strong.

Given your key role within the team here at the World Cup inChina, will this be the highlight of your career?
It's difficult to say, but the tournament will definitely be one of the high points of my time as a player. It could also be my last World Cup, since I am already 31.

You've said that you would like to travel around the world, and here you are playing at the World Cup inChina. Are you also trying to enjoy the overall experience?
I'll obviously try but it's incredibly difficult, since you have to be so focused and concentrate purely on the sporting side of things. But if I get a little bit of down time, then I'm sure that I'll have some really interesting experiences.

So let's concentrate on the sporting side of things. What do you think of your group?
We're just taking each game as it comes because we know that we're in a tough group. We've already talked about Argentina, but England have also really improved. We definitely should not underestimate them as they're among the best teams in the world now. The Japanese will be very energetic and certainly won't be an easy team to play against. We should always bear in mind that the less fancied teams can be really dangerous.

Your aim for the tournament has to be the defence of your title, though, right?
This is the way we see it - we're not here to defend something but to win something. The World Cup in China is a fresh challenge for us, and regardless of whether we were world champions in USA four years ago, we want to win this Cup.