Brazil's Marta is ready to 'fight for the championship'
With just six months until the 2019 Women's World Cup in France, ESPN talks to the Marta, Brazil's star forward, about the state of her team ahead of the 2019 Women's World Cup and what she expects to see in France.
ESPN: What are your expectations for the Women's World Cup? And how is Brazil preparing for the tournament?
Marta: We have been thinking about the World Cup for a long time, and it needs to be a long-term preparation because it cannot happen just on breaks. Like, "Oh, we still have two or three months, so I can prepare for it later." It cannot happen that way.
You need to be very disciplined because it takes a lot from you, and our goal is to be ready for the tournament and fight for the championship. We know it will be very hard because the other national teams are getting better and better from one competition to another. They are training a lot, and the girls are in a good shape.
This is one of our goals: Be in the best shape at the tournament.
ESPN: How prepared is Brazil's national team?
Marta: To be honest, our national team has had a hard time. We changed coaches [last year] -- Emily [Lima] was [eventually] replaced by Vadão -- and in the last few months, we lost some players due to injuries. We played some friendlies without many players. Some of them, maybe, will not be able to play in the World Cup, and they are very important. Therefore, Brazil is facing a very tricky [situation]; however, we have new players with great potential who are working very hard and we are preparing them.
ESPN: The United States is a strong candidate to win the World Cup. What do you expect from the U.S. at the World Cup?
Marta: The United States is unpredictable. If we look at their record at the Olympics, they did not reach the quarterfinals, so you might think we shouldn't expect a lot from them. No, that is not true. We need to expect a lot from them because they have talented athletes. They didn't do well here Brazil in 2016 [at the Rio Summer Olympics], but they recovered quickly, played some friendlies and minor tournaments so they are doing a good job now. Anyway, they are the team everyone will try to beat, as well as Germany.
In the old days, we would talk only about these two, but nowadays, we need to pay attention to Australia and France. As host of the World Cup, France will be playing with extra motivation with support from their fans. England and Sweden are great teams, too, so it will be a very high-level competition. We need to think about these opponents and study them constantly, but of course, we need to look at ourselves too.
We need to do our part. We athletes have to take care of our bodies and dedicate ourselves. We need to start thinking now about our conditioning because the competition is just around the corner. We need to start working on that.
ESPN: You are close to becoming the player with the most World Cup goals -- among men or women. How often do you think about that?
Marta: I don`t think a lot about it. If our team is in good form and playing well, it will happen. The right time will come. If you think only about yourself in soccer or any team sport, it does not work most of the times. You end up forgetting what you have to do for your team.
Therefore, everything in my life is like that: I do everything for my team because if my teammates are playing well, good things will happen naturally. I just need them to be in a good shape and playing well so Marta can score many more than two goals.