How Bayern’s women are shaping up ahead of the new season
On Saturday the 3rd of September, it’s back underway at 4pm with a home game on the Giesinger Höhen pitch in the Hermann Gerland Kampfbahn. The opponent on the first matchday is SC Freiburg.
Two years ago the team’s goal was to go after the big three of Wolfsburg, Potsdam and Frankfurt, and to establish themselves as the fourth power in the leading pack. After a complete upheaval of the squad, neither FC Bayern nor their competition could have reckoned with what happened next as a result. At the end of the 2014/15 season Bayern shockingly lifted the German league title. In the squad at the time there was a lot of rotation, and so young talents had the chance to prove themselves again and again.
Aware of now being the team everyone else was chasing, and also wanting to challenge in the Champions League, Bayern strengthened a year ago by bringing in, among others, the Champions League winner Vero Boquete and the German starlet Sara Däbritz. While Däbritz was a huge hit, becoming an established key member in the German national team, Boquete had to contend with injuries for the most part, and will play at Paris Saint-German from now on.
Sadly, the Bayern women had to say goodbye to the Champions League as early as after the first game against Twente Enschede, in which they fell victim to the away goals rule. Tom Wörle’s team were also not able to pull up any trees offensively in the league either. However, because the defence was reliable and the competition struggled badly, Bayern were able to retain their title. Again the team was able to celebrate with the men’s team on the balcony of the city hall. The dream of the double-double was made a mess of, however, through an uninspired performance in the semi-final against SC Sand, who were then stopped in the cup-final by VfL Wolfsburg.
The bottom line is that’s two league titles in a row. The consistency which was brought onto the pitch week-by-week for these two titles is probably the true legacy that this team has worked so hard for. While Potsdam will have to contend with their first managerial change for 45 years and a year plagued by troubles, and also not much seems to be left of the old giants FFC Frankfurt at the moment, Wolfsburg above all others will do everything to snatch back the champions’ shield once more.
Among the German national team, which crowned the end of Silvia Neid’s career this summer with Olympic gold, were six Wolves and five Bayern players, including the new signings. It wasn’t always like that. Just in March 2015, Tom Wörle said this to Miasanrot:
„I would obviously love to sign all of the German national players, but we just can’t afford them. On the contrary, with Melanie Behringer, Lena Lotzen, Leonie Maier and Melanie Leupolz, we have some key players from the spine of the national team.“ Tom Wörle, manager of FC Bayern women.
In the meantime, it’s not only been Sara Däbritz, Melanie Leupolz and Leonie Maier playing permanently in the national starting eleven. Melanie Behringer, who recently retired from international duty, even lead the team to victory as the best goalscorer of the tournament, with five goals. In addition, an absolute top-class player was signed in Simone Laudehr, who will lift the competition and leadership in the team to a new level, as soon as she has recovered from her injury.
- Simone Laudehr, midfield (1. FFC Frankfurt)
- Stefanie Van der Gragt, defence (Twente Enschede)
- Verena Faißt, defence (VfL Wolfsburg)
- Anna Gerhardt*, midfield (1. FC Köln)
- Jacintha Weimar, goalkeeper (CTO Eindhoven)
The players returning from injury can be counted as ‘like a new signing’ once they’re fit again: Katha Baunach, Sarah Romert and Lena Lotzen.
- Vero Boquete (Paris Saint-Germain)
- Eunice Beckmann (Boston Breakers)
- Laura Feiersinger (SC Sand)
- Raffaella Manieri (ACF Brescia)
- Ricarda Walkling (North Carolina State Wolfpack)
- Fabienne Weber (SV Jungingen)
Also leaving in winter were Kristie Mewis and Katie Stengel, returning to the USA. The contracts of Sarah Romert and Melanie Leupolz were extended in summer.
- 1st matchday 03.09.16 FC Bayern – SC Freiburg
- 2nd matchday 10.09.16 FF USV Jena – FC Bayern
- 3rd matchday 25.09.16 FC Bayern – VfL Wolfsburg
- 4th matchday 02.10.16 Bayer 04 Leverkusen – FC Bayern
- 5th matchday 16.10.16 SC Sand – FC Bayern
- 6th matchday 30.10.16 FC Bayern – MSV Duisburg
- 7th matchday 05.11.16 TSG 1899 Hoffenheim – FC Bayern
- 8th matchday 13.11.16 FC Bayern – 1. FFC Frankfurt
- 9th matchday 19.11.16 Borussia Mönchengladbach – FC Bayern
- 10th matchday 11.12.16 FC Bayern – Turbine Potsdam
- 11th matchday 18.12.16 SGS Essen – FC Bayern
- 12th matchday 19.02.17 SC Freiburg – FC Bayern
- 13th matchday 26.02.17 FC Bayern – FF USV Jena
- 14th matchday 19.03.17 VfL Wolfsburg – FC Bayern
- 15th matchday 26.03.17 FC Bayern – Bayer 04 Leverkusen
- 16th matchday 02.04.17 FC Bayern – SC Sand
- 17th matchday 23.04.17 MSV Duisburg – FC Bayern
- 18th matchday 30.04.17 FC Bayern – TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
- 19th matchday 07.05.17 1. FFC Frankfurt – FC Bayern
- 20th matchday 10.05.17 FC Bayern – Borussia Mönchengladbach
- 21th matchday 14.05.17 Turbine Potsdam – FC Bayern
- 22th matchday 21.05.17 FC Bayern – SGS Essen
The league will also consist of 12 teams this season, and the champions will be decided over 22 matchdays. For the relegated Köln and Bremen come MSV Duisberg and Borussia Mönchengladbach into the top division. Again the top two teams in the table will qualify for the Champions League.
The hottest candidates for the championship, alongside FC Bayern, are VfL Wolfsburg, who with Olympique Lyon were the leading side in European women’s football, nationally and internationally, in the last year. Just yesterday the signing of national striker Anja Mittag was confirmed, and she will join Wolfsburg from Paris. In addition VfL took Australian international Emily van Egmond from their competitors in Frankfurt, and signed the Icelandic Sara Gunnarsdóttir from FC Rosengård. The Wolves have already gotten the last season’s big upheaval out of the way. You can count on Ralf Kellerman throwing everything at the title with his team.
How Frankfurt and Potsdam contend with their ongoing shake-ups will be exciting, as will the development of the two promoted sides and the project at Sand. The cup finalists hired former Frankfurt coach Collin Bell after his short adventures in Norway, and in Laura Feiersinger and Jenny Gaugigl signed two players with history at Bayern.
Tom Wörle straying from his system with three/five at the back isn’t on the cards. For Bayern it’ll depend on mixing up their own game. An upgrade in defence was achieved by replacing Maniere and Feiersinger with Faißt and Van der Gragt. In the Champions League games against Bayern, Van der Gragt played the centre-back role just like Bayern vice-captain Nora Holstad. Holstad didn’t miss a single minute of league football last minute. We’ll see if she’s included in the rotation in the future. The two-footed Faißt could compete with Gina Lewandowski, so far played as the left wing-back. Laudehr will, in contrast to Boquete, bring more directness in moving the ball from the middle into the final third, without losing leadership skills. It might be that she plays more defensively as a number six, enabling Leupolz to play alongside Däbritz in a more advanced role like in the German national team. It was the creation of chances against opponents who sat deep that was lacking last season. We’ll see how Wörle gets more out of his attack without exposing the defence.
*Yup, google her brother yourself.