'Bigmouth' goalkeeper Schult a safe pair of hands for Germany

Germany goalkeeper Almuth Schult is hoping to build on a spotless record at the Women's World Cup when her team take on old rivals Sweden in the last eight on Saturday.

Schult, 28, is known for her charisma and constant chatter in the dressing room, and has played an instrumental role as Germany have sailed into the quarter-finals.

The Wolfsburg and Germany number one has kept four clean sheets in four games, making her the only goalkeeper yet to concede at this World Cup. According to FIFA.com she has only had to make a total of five saves so far.

Just two more games without a goal and she would equal a record set by predecessor Nadine Angerer, who went a whole six-game tournament without conceding when Germany won the World Cup in 2007.

Angerer herself holds Schult in high regard, and called her "the best goalkeeper in the world" in a recent interview with German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.

"Almuth is absolutely world class when she keeps her feet on the ground. When she is focused, there is nobody better," said Angerer.

Schult, who has been Germany's number one since helping the team win Olympic gold in 2016, has previously been prone to the occasional lapse in concentration.

There were calls to drop her earlier this year after she made two errors in a friendly against Japan. Yet coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg and her team have stuck by their number one.

"Almuth has a very strong personality and a willpower which has seen her overcome lots of setbacks," goalkeeping coach Michael Fuchs told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

- 'Big mouth' -

Schult attributes her strength of character to a childhood spent helping out on her family's farm in Lower Saxony.

"I can use a chainsaw, I can chop wood. I am pretty robust," she said earlier this month.

Her steeliness helped her overcome a debilitating measles infection last January, and makes her one of the more vocal players in the Germany dressing room.

She is the only member of the squad who is not on social media, telling the Frankfurter Rundschau that she "prefers to communicate with people directly".

"I always have an opinion when we are discussing tactics. Sometimes I come across as a bit of a know-it-all," she told newspaper FAZ in April.

In the same interview, Schult accused the German Football Association (DFB) of neglecting the women's game.

"How are we supposed to break down prejudices and stereotypes from those outside women's football if we are having to do the same inside our own federation?" she said.

As her captain and Wolfsburg team mate Alexandra Popp laughingly puts it: "Almuth has a big mouth, but there is also something behind it."

Schult's big mouth is not always appreciated, however. Teammate Linda Dallmann revealed last week that the goalkeeper was the only player not to share her room with somebody else due to her talkative nature.

At a previous World Cup, Schult allegedly enraged her then room-mate Tabea Kemme by ruminating aloud on which opponents Germany could face later in the tournament.

One player apparently immune to Schult's chatter is Sweden defender Nilla Fischer.

The two women were room mates at Wolfsburg in recent years, but will be on opposing sides in Saturday's quarter-final.

Two-time World Cup winners Germany have not lost to Sweden in a competitive match for 24 years, and have beaten them in the final of five major tournaments since 1995.

Fischer will be out to end that run on Saturday, but to do so, she and her teammates will have to get past Schult. So far at this World Cup, that has been easier said than done.

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