Marti ahead of Euro 2022 opener with Switzerland: 'There's huge euphoria!'

To take part in a big tournament for your country – this dream of every player has now come true for Lara Marti. The Bayer 04 Women's team defender is set to start the European Championships in England today, Saturday 9 July, with Switzerland. Marti and Co. face Portugal at 18.00 CEST in Leigh near Manchester.

Ahead of Switzerland’s opening match in Group C, which also includes Sweden and the Netherlands, the 22-year-old spoke in an interview with about her excitement going in to the big event, interest in the international tournament back home and chances of progressing.

Lara, you are set to take part in your first European Championship finals. How excited are you?

Marti: Massively! For us as Switzerland, more of a smaller nation, it's not a given that we regularly qualify for the finals of big tournaments. Therefore, there’s great euphoria – with all of us. We are looking forward incredibly to finally getting started after four weeks of preparation.

What was the feedback like from those around you when you were called up to the Switzerland Euros squad?

Marti: Of course, it was very positive. I received congratulations from the family, from friends, former schoolmates and via social media. At home, that is in the country, a lot of people came up to my family and said they were really happy for us. It was great feedback but also gave me additional motivation…

Your Euro debut is in one of the countries where women's football enjoys great popularity…

Marti: We see the Euro 2022 tournament as an outstanding stage for promoting women's football in our country. England is a very positive example of how women's football can be set up and established. Unfortunately, not too many girls play football in Switzerland when they are adults. A lot give up over the course of time because there is often a lack of support in small clubs. We want to work on that and show the way forwards.

What's your assessment of the interest in the European Championships back home?

Marti: Things are developing in the right direction and interest is gradually growing. For example, we set the new crowd record for a women's international in Switzerland a few days ago (over 10,000 fans watched the game against Euro hosts England in Zürich, ed.). There is also more coverage in the Swiss media. One very important point is the live coverage of our Euro 2022 matches on Swiss television.

You're in a group with Portugal, Sweden and the Netherlands. What's your assessment of the opponents and your chances of progressing?

Marti: It's a very challenging group where we have the role as underdogs. We've got nothing against that. We know what we can do and we're not afraid of anybody. We were also able to gain important insights from our last two friendlies against England (0-4, ed.) and Germany (0-7, ed.) that will definitely help is in the group stage.

What are the strengths of your team?

Marti: We have a lot of experienced and high quality individual players in our ranks. We are aware we have to rely on sticking together and our own abilities against the best teams in Europe.

At the club level, you left Switzerland in the summer of 2020 when you joined Bayer 04 from FC Basel. Away from your home country, into the adventure of the FLYERALARM Women's Bundesliga. How big a step was that for you personally?

Marti: I got to the point where I needed a new challenge. I lived at home and I had my friends around me in my home village. I was just in my own little comfort zone. The move to Leverkusen came at just the right time. It was into a stronger league, from the countryside into the city, everything was new. It was just all a bit bigger. But I felt ready and I don't regret the move at all.


How much does football differ between Switzerland and Germany?

Marti: The sporting differences are huge. The game in the Bundesliga is quicker, more intensive, more physical – at a constantly higher level. I needed a couple of months to settle in. That was also due in part to the pandemic and the resulting circumstances. But I learned a lot in that time and I matured. On and off the pitch.

From the Women’s Euro 2022 to the Bundesliga: How do you think the Bayer 04 Women's team will do in the new season?

Marti: I'm confident. The summer break has definitely done everyone good so the girls can start the preseason with renewed energy. There is incredible potential in our squad that we can exploit. From young girls who play in national youth teams to very experienced players, we've got it all. The new signings also have great quality. We are keen to learn and develop and we can take a step forwards.

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