“Having a successful women’s team would suit Bayern very well”
Bayern’s women went into the winter break sitting in third place behind VfL Wolfsburg and TSG Hoffenheim. After the first matchday of the second half, they are now level on points with Hoffenheim. How do you rate the women’s season so far?
Perhaps the best way to describe it is “neither fish nor fowl”. On the one hand, new players had to be integrated and old ones replaced. In addition, with Jens Scheuer a new coach arrived before the beginning of the season. All of this, as we all know, takes time to gel. Nevertheless, the team, measured by its quality, has rarely been able to play convincingly. Too often, they missed far too many of their chances.
Before the season Jens Scheuer joined Bayern as the women team’s new head coach coming from Freiburg. How do you assess Scheuer’s time at the helm so far? What has changed most under him compared to his predecessor Wörle?
From my point of view not much has changed. And that is regrettable. Actually, many people hoped that Scheuer could take the team to the next level, which is necessary to be able to compete with Wolfsburg for the DFB-Pokal and championship. Scheuer’s predecessor Wörle was said to have no plan B. With Scheuer, I could not even recognize a plan of any description so far. Even if you rarely need a plan B as a coach of FC Bayern women.
What kind of football does he play? Has he taken a noticeable step in the right direction with his team?
Unfortunately, I cannot see that. I’m not a coach, I’m not a tactician and I’m not Scheuer. But in the second half of 2019 I often scratched my head in amazement seeing his tactical and personnel choices. Repeatedly, he used some of the players out of position and on top of that comes his choice to rotate in goal. Sometimes Schlüter was number 1, sometimes it was Benkarth. All in all, to me the team seemed to lack confidence. This was especially noticeable in the games against Wolfsburg.
Apart from that I can’t see any big difference to predecessor Wörle as far as the playing style is concerned. With the combinational play skills of such players as Magull and Dallmann you should actually be able to play your way through tightly organized and deep sitting opponents. But so far I have seen too little of that. Also Bayern don’t take advantage of the qualities of their fast wingers enough for me. They could choose to get through to the byline down the flanks more often if playing through the center doesn’t work.
As far as men’s football is concerned, Bayern are the undisputed leaders in Germany. How do you rate Bayern’s women squad by national and international standards?
The squad has consisted almost exclusively of their respective nation’s international players in recent years. But even though Giulia Gewinn, for example, was voted the best young player at last year’s World Cup, there is still no single player in the squad that I would currently rank among the top 50 in the world. Looking at the squad on the whole, the team is actually in a better position nationally than their big rivals from Wolfsburg. Internationally, they’re certainly among the top 20 in Europe – and the world.
If we focus on individual players: Who was able to surprise? Who have been the biggest disappointments so far? Which signings made the biggest impact? Who could still surprise in the second half of the season?
None of the summer signings has really disappointed so far. Emily Gielnik and Ali Riley have hardly been used until now. And Ali, unfortunately, has already left the club again.
Gwinn, who came from Freiburg together with Scheuer, was recently set back by a shoulder injury, but up to that point she consistently performed well and has been the expected reinforcement. Amanda Ilestedt also seems to have finally found her place in the team. From Caro Simon there is more to come, but at least she has been able to impress with some lovely goals lately. Beerensteyn has found her rhythm and turned into a reliable goal scorer. I hope that her contract, which expires at the end of the season, will be extended and that she doesn’t also switch to “FC Bayern III”, i.e. Arsenal.
If I had to single out one player, it would be 19-year-old Sydney Lohmann. Under Wörle she became a regular starter, which came as a complete surprise to everyone. What she has delivered in midfield since then is absolutely amazing. She is the perfect carbon copy of Captain Leupolz and Daebritz, who moved to PSG. Her performance surprises me anew every time.
In the Champions League, Bayern will face the biggest possible hurdle there is in the quarter-finals: Olympique Lyon. The club from France has won Europe’s top title four times in recent years. What are Bayern’s goals in these games? Is there even a half realistic chance of progressing?
You always have a chance, but I would say quite unambiguously: No. Judging from a distance, Bayern’s objective should be to get out of both games conceding as few goals as possible. Nevertheless, internally they will certainly hope for more and communicate this to the outside as well. Both teams will no doubt be clearly aware of who’s the favorite and who’s the outsider. But no matter how the first leg ends, and even if Lyon has to play without Ada Hegeberg (torn cruciate ligament), no fan should miss the opportunity to see the best team in women’s football internationally playing at Bayern’s Campus.
The team has already been eliminated from the DFB-Pokal by top favorites Wolfsburg. The championship seems to be decided already and in the Champions League they are on the brink of being eliminated. What goals could possibly remain for the rest of the season?
Since a third place in the league won’t be enough to qualify for the Champions League before next season, they’ll have to finish second in the league if they want to qualify for Europe again. That must clearly be the goal. However, in the second half of the season they have yet to play against both Hoffenheim and Wolfsburg. But fortunately, both will be home games at the Campus.
In 2015, a German women’s team won the Champions League for the last time. The semi-final matches now read like the Who’s Who of international men’s football. Has Germany’s women’s football been left behind in Europe?
That certainly depends on how you look at it. I think that the Women’s Bundesliga is still the best league in Europe in terms of quality and breadth, alongside the English FA WSL. But you have to be careful and it won’t get any easier in the coming years. More and more of the established names of men’s football will also make a foray into women’s football. Some even more so than they already have. Real Madrid, currently still under the name CD Tacón, are already working on a team for the “Galacticas”.
But there’s always the question of how sustainable all these efforts are. And I think sustainability is the one area where the Women’s Bundesliga is uniquely well positioned internationally in the long term. Presumably the reputation of our league will eventually level off, comparable to the men’s Bundesliga: Not the big stars, not the big money. But many interesting players and talents, many of whom, if they want to earn money, will ultimately move abroad.
One of our guest authors, Christian, recently published an open letter to the new president Herbert Hainer in his blog. In this letter he specifically addressed the importance of the women’s team for the club. Should FC Bayern – like other top European clubs – invest significantly more in women’s football?
It is a double-edged sword. The fact that many of Europe’s top clubs are investing in women’s football is something I am in two minds about. The gap that we all can observe widening in men’s football will probably widen even more quickly in women’s football. Pure women’s football clubs, of which there is one in Munich, or small clubs like SGS Essen or SC Sand, will simply have a harder time. They will possibly never be able to play first league football again and can only dream of ever playing in Europe.
As far as FC Bayern is concerned, yes, of course they should do that. They invest a lot of money in the men’s team in order to stay competitive in Europe, so why shouldn’t they do the same for the women? Both are part of FC Bayern’s spun-off football department. The women’s budget is estimated at €3.5 million. Wolfsburg’s budget is about €5 million. In terms of men’s football, that’s pocket money. Even the €10 million rumoured for Lyon seem relatively modest. And Lyon are THE figurehead in women’s football.
FC Bayern’s women’s department was (officially) founded in 1970. When the ban on women’s football was lifted by the DFB in the same year, the Bayern women were one of the first professional teams in Germany. Women’s football therefore has a long tradition at FC Bayern. Even Maria Meissner, who achieved late fame as a “cup cleaner”, is part of the history of FC Bayern’s women. Last but not least, it is the year 2020 and FC Bayern has always proudly held up a set of core values for themselves throughout their history: Openness, equality and tolerance. A successful women’s football department would be a very good reflection of this at the club. In this respect I completely agree with Christian. But it seems to me that there is still a long way to go, within the club and also for the fans, before they can really reach the top. Or want to.