Gaëlle Thalmann interview on Women’s Soccer United
Gaëlle Thalmann: It’s not always about playing beautiful soccer, sometimes it’s about fight and efficiency
It’s been a celebratory year for Switzerland women’s national team who completed a perfect qualifying campaign to book their place at the nation’s first ever UEFA Women’s EURO.
The Swiss squad are currently in the USA, having just competed in two international friendly matches against the world champions, USWNT.
We caught up with the Swiss national women’s team goalkeeper Gaëlle Thalmann to discuss her move to Italian Women’s Serie A club AGSM Verona, Switzerland’s historic year earning qualification for the EUROS and her expectations.
Women’s Soccer United: You signed for top Italian Women’s Serie A club AGSM Verona this year. Can you tell us what the similarities and differences are from your previous experiences playing for clubs in Switzerland and Germany?
Gaëlle Thalmann: The level in Italy is higher than in Switzerland. Top teams could surely play in the German League, but German soccer is more about athletic while Italian one is more about technical and tactical skills. For me as a goalkeeper it is really good to be in Italy because they have the best goalkeeper school!
WSU: You kicked off the new season with a 3-1 away win against Jesina. Does this AGSM Verona squad have what it takes to win back the league title?
GT: This is a very new team because the club decided to sign a lot of new players. So it will take time to learn each other and what the coach wants. But if we will have the right will to improve and to learn, there will be a way to play for the championship. It is our objective.
WSU: Who would you say are AGSM Verona’s biggest rivals in the Italian Women’s Serie A, and why?
GT: Surely Brescia, because they are the champions of last year and they have played together for a long time. Fiorentina has a lot of young players and their objective is to make better than last year. Mozzanica lost some players, but like us, when they will have spent some time together on the pitch they will be an important rival.
WSU: It has been an historic year for Switzerland as your perfect, unbeaten qualifying campaign booked your place at the nation’s first ever UEFA Women’s EURO tournament! Could you describe the feeling when you learnt you had clinched qualification? Was there good support of the team’s achievement in Switzerland?
GT: When we qualified in June, it was a really great feeling, which is difficult to describe with words. A lot of joy! And really cool to make it happen on the field! Because when we did it for the World Cup (9 wins and 1 draw), it happened watching Denmark lose some points! It was really cool to go on holiday and know the next summer we will be playing the Euro!
The press is speaking also more about our team, which is good. There was maybe more support for the World Cup because it was the first tournament, but we confirmed our performance with the Euro qualifying, which is great. And the press and fans continue to follow us.
WSU: What lessons were learned during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 that will help the national squad develop and prepare for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017?
GT: We know that at this high level details can make you win or lose. We should be more incisive in front of the goal, and more aggressive to defend our own goal. It’s not always about playing beautiful soccer, sometimes it’s about fight and efficiency. We surely have to be in an athletic top condition to make a good job!
WSU: The UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 draw will take place next month. Are there any teams you prefer to meet/avoid?
GT: It is a good thing for us that we are in the second pot. At the Euro there are only the best teams, so every team we will meet is ok. It’s all about good preparation and the will to always win. There is always a way!
WSU: What would be your realistic and dream expectations for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017?
GT: Realistic is to get over the group phase! Dreams are bigger than reality, because it makes you improve and work smarter and harder, to make them come true!
WSU: Switzerland competed in two international friendly matches against the World Champions USA, your last encounter was during the Algarve Cup in which the US won 3-0. What appeals to you most about this challenge and how important is it for development to play against world class opponents?
GT: Unfortunately, I was not present at the Algarve Cup because i was injured with my ACL. But i played the USA two years ago. It is always good to play games at such a high level and in front of a lot of people, because you can only learn and get over your own limits. It is an honour to play against the World Champion. But when we go on the field, we always try to win! It is our mentality, even against world class teams!