SKN women: CL premiere against Wolfsburg

The Lower Austrian “wolves” headed by head coach Liese Brancao started their first European Cup journey as premier class participants to the German counterpart by bus on Wednesday. Via Linz we flew to Braunschweig and from there again by bus to the VW city.

Wolfsburg knows St. Pölten from friendlies, four years ago there was a goalless draw against the Germans. One thing was clear to SKN captain Jasmin Eder before the reunion: “Wolfsburg is a top team full of professionals.”

Wolfsberg favorite in group stage

The opponent knows his role. “We’re going into the group stage as favourites. That must also be our goal: to win the group,” said sporting director Ralf Kellermann, who coached the VfL women in 2013 and 2014 to triumph in the Champions League. In the previous season, Wolfsburg was in the semi-finals, where they ended up against FC Barcelona.

If Wolfsburg is a regular guest, St. Pölten worked their way into the group this year by qualifying via North Macedonian club Ljuboten, Dinamo-BSUPC from Belarus and KuPS Kuopio from Finland. The Slovenian Mateja Zver scored three goals in the close duels with the Finnish champions (1:0, 2:2 aet).

First home game on Wednesday against AS Roma

The Lower Austrians were already in the round of the top 16 (2020/21), but at that time they played in a different format. In addition to the winners of the four groups, the respective runners-up now also advance to the quarter-finals. A win for women is worth a UEFA bonus of €50,000, with each club collecting €400,000 just for appearing in the group stage. The SKN will not become rich as a result. After all, thanks to the additional funds, the budget will exceed the million mark, said President Wilfried Schmaus.

The biggest hope is that the Champions League will attract more fans to the NV Arena. Next week, the first home game against the AS Roma players will take place on Wednesday. The Italians with ÖFB team player Carina Wenninger are considered a team to beat. At least they seem to be on par with Slavia Prague. “For us something is possible against Roma and Slavia. We can move up, but we can also finish fourth,” said Brancao.

UEFA expects further impetus for women’s football

After the European Championships in England in July, UEFA expects further impetus for women’s football from Europe’s only club competition. The Champions League moved masses last season, according to department head and former world footballer Nadine Kessler. “And she will do that again this season – hopefully a little more,” she told dpa. In April, when FC Barcelona beat Wolfsburg 5-1, there was a world record attendance for women’s games: 91,648 came to the Camp Nou.

Kessler sees it as an individual decision whether the clubs will now move to large stadiums more often. “But of course we encourage all clubs to dare more and more in larger stadiums. We simply need more such highlight moments, full spectator stands and top stadiums that underline the importance of women’s football.” In Wolfsburg, the game will be played in the 5,000-seat AOK stadium on Thursday. In the Volkswagen Arena (30,000 seats), where the VfL men usually play, the club wants to compete in the quarter-finals at the earliest.

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