This year did not get off to an auspicious start for Lina Magull. In early April, the 20-year-old partially tore ankle ligaments, resulting in several weeks on the sidelines for then German and European champions VfL Wolfsburg. But the determined German youth international fought her way back to fitness, and has since led her team to the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 in Canada.
“The recovery programme [after matches] is the same – we run the game off, get a massage and take an ice bath – but I get extra treatment for both my foot and my entire body,” Magull explained in an interview with FIFA.com.
“Although I’m not playing full games right now, I’m just happy to be part of this. I spoke about it with [coach] Maren Meinert at the start of the tournament. We both knew I wouldn’t make through 90 minutes in every match. When I no longer feel comfortable, I or someone else just gives a signal, and I get substituted.”
The fact that Magull has been appointed captain despite her injury speaks volumes for the exceptional quality the deep-lying playmaker brings to the German side. “Captaining your country is something special. It’s the first time I’ve led a team at such a major tournament,” she said.
Feeling good ahead of France duel
“Although the demands are certainly high, the team and coaching staff know that I’m giving my best and trying to help the side as best I can, both on and off the pitch,” Magull continued.
She has done an excellent job, wearing the armband at the start of every match and making decisive contributions, most recently in the quarter-final against Canada. In front of 22,421 fans, Magull and her team-mates showed just why they are among the favourites to lift the trophy.
“It wasn’t an easy game,” she recalled. “Canada really are a very good team and naturally the crowd were on their side, but after we won the match many of the spectators were happy for us too, which was great. We left a positive impression with the fans that evening, so hopefully we can take a few of them with us into the next game, get them behind us and make the most of that extra boost. We delivered a great performance, so we’re going into the match against France with a good feeling.”
Germany seeking to get even
Maren Meinert’s side are up against old adversaries in the last four. Both teams met at the UEFA Women’s Under-19 Championship 2013, again in the semi-final, and on that occasion it was the French who had reason to celebrate.
“France are a very strong side with plenty of technically skilled players,” continued the 20-year-old. “We’ve played them several times before and we certainly remember the meeting with them at last year’s European Championship, when unfortunately we lost 2-1. That result motivates us even further because we want to make up for it."
What is more, compared to Germany, France have one day less in which to recover, and also have to bounce back from an energy-sapping quarter-final against Korea Republic. “Having an extra 24 hours in which to recover is definitely important for the body, plus France have more minutes under their belt after playing extra-time and a penalty shoot-out,” Magull acknowledged. “I see that as a slight advantage and hope we can make the most of it.”