Checking in on the Frauen-Bundesliga
Is this the weekend where Bayern or Wolfsburg click?
When a big game is scheduled in the opening weekends of the season, there is sometimes a sense of disappointment. Often early on in the season, the matches that you want to be explosive fizzle out somewhat with teams still finding their groove. It is hard to know when to properly start to assess the performances of sides, particularly in a league season as short as the one in most women’s leagues.
This Sunday sees two notably big games in Germany and in England. Arsenal host Manchester City in the WSL, with Bayern Munich playing Wolfsburg. The situation in the Frauen-Bundesliga is intriguing with both sides unbeaten in the league but neither in top form. There will likely be some post-international break rustiness but five matches into the season, this feels like the point where we might be able to pick up some firm conclusions.
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For the past decade, Wolfsburg and Bayern have traded turns at the top of the table in Germany. The Frauen-Bundesliga has arguably been the most competitive of the European women’s leagues albeit only between two teams. You have to go back to the 2013/14 season for the last time someone else made the top two (FFC Frankfurt, who became Eintracht Frankfurt) and all the way to 2011/12 for a different winner. That was Turbine Potsdam who’s relegation from the Frauen-Bundesliga last year confirmed the shift towards traditionally big clubs that has been seen across Europe.
The pressure of having only one rival means that these head to head games take on extra stature. In the WSL, title challengers can expect that their rivals might drop points to any one of four teams. Last year Bayern Munich’s only loss in the league came against Wolfsburg.
Bayern and Wolfsburg have both already dropped points however. Bayern’s opening night draw with Freiburg looked like it could be written off as the start of the season blues, but they drew again with Eintracht Frankfurt. Normally that would not necessarily be seen as the worst result in the world, but Eintracht have had their own issues at the start of the season.
Meanwhile Wolfsburg made a dominant start in the Frauen-Bundesliga but crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of Paris FC. Their exit in the second qualifying round ended an 11 year run of reaching, as a minimum, the quarter-finals of the competition. They then slipped to a two goal deficit against Hoffenheim in their last Frauen-Bundesliga game before the international break and, despite nicking a point in the end, look to be in a rocky place.
Without UWCL football, the pressure will be on Wolfsburg manager Tommy Stroot to deliver the Frauen-Bundesliga title that they missed out on last season. Bayern have not won back to back titles since the 2014/15 and 2015/16 season. The problem Stroot has is that defensively Wolfsburg continue to look all over the place.
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