No list of the most exceptional footballers playing in Germany’s women’s national team right now would be complete without Celia Sasic. The 26-year-old is currently in the form of her life, producing goals for both 1. FFC Frankfurt and the national side as if they were rolling off an assembly line. The fact that she was the undisputed top goalscorer in the Bundesliga last season after finding the target for Frankfurt 21 times makes it no surprise to learn that she also headed the scorers’ list in the UEFA Women’s Champions League, netting on 14 occasions as her club battled their way to this year’s title.
National team coach Silvia Neid will also be able to rely on her star striker’s insatiable hunger for goals at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, which runs from 6 June until 5 July. Sasic spoke exclusively with FIFA.com ahead of Germany’s first match in Canada about her excitement, their title rivals and making a strong start.
FIFA.com: The Women’s World Cup begins in just a few days’ time. Can you feel any butterflies in your stomach yet?
Celia Sasic: The reality of it hits you quite slowly. We’ve pretty much come straight out of the season with no time to reflect on things and now we’re back at it again. The match against Switzerland was the dress rehearsal for us – the green light, so to speak – and then things get going for real on Sunday. In any event, we’re all extremely excited about it.**
What expectations do you have going into this tournament?
*We’re going into it expecting to deliver our best performances, to improve from one game to the next and show our quality out on the pitch. I think there’ll be plenty of possibilities for us if we can do that. Playing at a World Cup is always the greatest thing you can do in football – that’s why we’re all proud to be here and want to enjoy the competition.*
How satisfied are you with the team’s preparations? What have you learned from the last friendly, for example?
*Although our preparations were brief, we’ve been working on this project all year. We had plenty of time to work on things at the Algarve Cup in particular. We’ve been making more subtle improvements in our current training – correcting errors, for example. After this long season, we’ve been trying to ensure that we can get ourselves back up to a really high level by the time we start playing in the tournament. We’ve now managed that by beating Switzerland 3-1. Although we struggled in the first half, we clearly showed that we were the better team after half-time. We’ve got to do the same thing from the very start once the World Cup gets underway.*
How important do you think it will be to make a successful start in the first match against Women’s World Cup debutantes Côte d’Ivoire?
*It’s always important to take three points from the first game, because then you’re not in danger of being put under pressure and having to pick up points somehow later on. It’s always very important to feel that you’ve settled into the tournament and slowly play your way into a rhythm. Our aim is to control our first game extremely well, play convincingly and improve one step at a time throughout the tournament.*
Norway’s Caroline Hansen [missing the Women’s World Cup through injury – editor’s note] told FIFA.com that while you have to take debutantes Thailand and Côte d’Ivoire seriously, it’s also important to take six points from those two matches. What’s your view on this?
*They’re two big unknown quantities for us. Right now the members of our squad still don’t know anything about their players or playing style. Naturally the coaching team have been studying both sides very closely and will bring the players up to speed before these games. In any case, the requirement for us is to survive this group, progress to the knockout stages and get points from both of those matches along the way.*
Germany are always among the title contenders. Do you believe that this German team has what it takes to lift the Women’s World Cup trophy?
*Of course we’ve got what it takes, but so do many other sides. That’s why it always comes down to little details, form on the day and nuances in a game at a tournament like this. You can’t afford to rely on the supposed qualities you have in this kind of situation. You’ve got to prove yourself in every match and stay completely alert for 90 or 120 minutes, because those little details can decide a game and before you know it, it’s all over.*
Which teams do you think are capable of playing for the title?
*There are so many sides with the ability to compete for the trophy, and I think things will become clearer as the tournament goes on. Nevertheless, I think France will be at the front of the pack, as will the Japanese. Then there are the usual suspects like Sweden, USA. It’ll be a fascinating contest as there will be challenges to face both on and off the pitch. That’s why I’m so excited.*
You have managed to gather experience at several previous tournaments. What elements of that experience are most likely to be useful for the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Canada?
Being in a team that acts as a single unit is extremely important; it ensures that everyone in the side is pursuing the same aim and moving in the same direction. That was part of the key to success in 2013. We weren’t so lucky in the early stages and were practically written off, but in the end we won the title because we pulled together as a unit and knew what we had to do to reach our goal. We turned things around as the tournament went on and ended up lifting the trophy, so that’s a vital element.
**You are well known for your goalscoring prowess. Have you got any special targets in mind for Canada 2015?
**I generally never set myself a particular number of goals to score. I play football because I have so much fun doing it and scoring is the most fun part of it. Although I try to find the target in every match, I don’t get desperate about it and set any kind of benchmarks for myself – that only inhibits your play. Everything else plays out by itself and so far it’s always gone well.