The 31st season of the Frauen-Bundesliga is slated to kick off on September 4th, with defending champions and DFB Pokal winners VfL Wolfsburg facing off against SGS Essen in a rematch of the 2020 Pokal final. The upcoming season is set to be an exciting one, with plenty of new faces, new investment, and perhaps even a proper title race. Today we will take a look at the two promoted sides and Leverkusen, last season’s 10th-placed team. Let’s preview the new campaign!
Last Season: Despite sitting in 4th with a goal difference of just +2 when the 2. Frauen-Bundesliga season was canceled, Meppen were promoted to the top flight. Bremen, Wolfsburg II, and Hoffenheim II all finished above the Lower Saxon outfit, but as per DFB rules, no reserve or youth teams are allowed to play in the top tier of German women’s football. A great achievement for the little club, but it could well be a short-lived one.
Expectations: Meppen are about to embark on their first-ever Bundesliga campaign and they have made quite a few signings in the hope of accumulating enough depth and firepower to stay up.
Not one, not two, but three forwards were signed to strengthen Meppen’s frontline. Janelle Flaws joined from insolvent Cloppenburg, Sandra Voitāne arrived from Cypriot outfit Apollon Limassol, and Agnieszka Winczo was signed from fellow Bundesliga side Sand. Goalkeeper Laura Sieger made the switch from Leverkusen, winger Alexandra Emmerling was brought in from Frankfurt, and two defenders were signed out of college, with Aussie full-back Beattie Goad joining after finishing her studies at Standford, and center-back Victoria Krug returning to Germany after some time at Wake Forest.
The only departures worth mentioning are Jasmin Jabbes and Henrike Jurascherk, who both signed for Regionalliga sides, but they didn’t feature regularly last season and probably won’t be missed on the pitch.
Meppen could be quite an enjoyable team to watch this season, and although converting that excitement into enough goals to survive will be a challenge, we here at Tom Weber Inc. like to have fun, so I think Meppen will just stay up. (now watch them get absolutely Mönchengladbach’d and finish the season on one point)
Breakout Youngster: New signing Sandra Voitāne looks an interesting prospect, although one could argue that, being a full senior international and having featured in Champions League qualifying, she is already a fairly established player. The 20-year-old is the first Latvian in the Frauen-Bundesliga and has two national team goals to her name.
MVP: It will be a running theme throughout these team previews that goalscorers will get the nod for MVP because, as the old adage goes, goals win you games. Given that Meppen signed three new strikers, one can only speculate on who will be Theodoros Dedes’ preferred number nine. With that being said, last season’s most prolific member of the squad wasn’t actually a forward; it was midfielder Maike Berentzen. If the 23-year-old can carry that form into this season, and replicate or perhaps even better her tally of seven goals, that will significantly improve Meppen’s chances of survival.
Last Season: The 2. Frauen-Bundesliga season may have been cut short, but there was no doubt as to who was the best team in the league. Werder Bremen won the second division at a canter last season, finishing on 40 points, 11 ahead of Wolfsburg II in second.
Expectations: Bremen have been the Bundesliga’s ultimate yo-yo club in recent times, and it will be quite a challenge for coach Alexander Kluge to keep them up this season. When a side is as dominant as Bremen were in 19/20, vultures will eventually come circling, trying to nab your talent and unfortunately for the Green-Whites, that is exactly what has happened.
Their three top scorers from last season are all gone, with Selina Cerci getting snapped up by Potsdam, Giovanna Hoffmann joining Freiburg, and Cindy König heading to Portugal with Braga. Defensive stalwart Luisa Wensing and Samantha Steuerwald followed Hoffmann to Freiburg, while Adina Hamidovic returned to Austria with St. Pölten. Veterans Lisa-Marie Scholz and Jessica Golebiewski were released, and Franziska Gieseke and Alicia Kersten dropped down to the lower leagues.
Not a lot of top-flight reinforcements were brought in, with only Jasmin Sehan from Sand and Margarita Gidion from Frankfurt arriving from fellow Bundesliga sides. Bremen were busier picking up players from more familiar surroundings; experienced Polish forward Agata Tarczynska was signed from Wolfsburg II, Kiwi midfielder Jana Radosavljević arrived from Cloppenburg, and center-back Anna Hausdorff joined from Hoffenheim II. Additionally, three teenagers were promoted from within the club.
That lack of transfer activity should be a worry for Bremen fans, and it leaves them with quite a small squad. Agata Tarczynska is a solid pick-up, but she alone won’t be able to replace the 28 goals that they lost in Cerci, Hoffmann, and König. It would be nice to see Bremen establish themselves as a Bundesliga side, but that is just not going to happen with that current squad, with all due respect. They boast plenty of experience, but the lack of firepower is a massive shortcoming. I can’t see them staying up, unfortunately. Just by virtue of having a deeper squad, I would rate Meppen’s chances of survival higher than Bremen’s.
Breakout Youngster: Midfielders Julia Kofler, Sophie Walter, and Nina Lührßen are all likely to see an increase in game time, and at least one of them will have to step up and become a starting-caliber player. Kofler played the most minutes last season and even chipped in with three goals; logic would suggest that she is ready to take on a bigger role within the squad.
MVP: Austrian national team mainstay Katharina Schiechtl and 33-year-old Hungarian Gabriella Tóth will have big roles to play as Bremen’s full-backs, both defensively and offensively. If the Green-Whites do manage to stay up it will have been because of their assists and most likely because of the goals of Agata Tarczynska. As you can see, there really is no obvious favorite here, but it’s my preview, so they can all be Bremen’s MVP.
Last Season: What are Leverkusen? That’s a genuine question because I certainly have no idea. You would think a club whose men’s side regularly appears in the upper echelons of the Bundesliga would show some ambition with its women’s team, but that has not been the case at all.
Despite being the men’s Bundesliga’s fifth-biggest spender over the past five years, there is no investment, no clear philosophy, and not even any kind of quirky social media marketing. It seems trivial, but given the size of the club and the size of their online following, common sense would suggest that they should try to give their women’s team a little promotion, a little hype, but there has just been almost complete radio silence. They reached the DFB Pokal semi-final – the one bright spot on a dire 19/20 season – and only the Twitter account actually dedicated to the women acknowledged the game, the German and the massive English men’s accounts didn’t make a peep. Imagine the excitement an account the size of Leverkusen’s English Twitter could have created for a game that was available to watch worldwide and free of charge. It’s beyond comprehension and something that has bothered me for some time. Obviously, a lot of clubs are guilty of this, but few can boast Leverkusen’s level of online engagement.
There’s not much to say about last season other than that they were terrible, just godawful, really. No clear style of play, some of the defending was bush-league at best, and the rare positives – reaching the Pokal semi and the wholesomeness provided by the Wirtz siblings; Juliane playing for the women and Florian making his debut for the men – were outweighed by the negatives. Leverkusen could easily have been relegated at the end of last season, but they just managed to stay up by the skin of their teeth, finishing 10th, level on points with Köln and Duisburg.
Expectations: It can only get better, though, right? Yeah, I guess so? I do think they will survive again this season, but it might very well be another miserable slog.
There was quite a bit of movement in the transfer window; six players left, most of them veterans, and eleven reinforcements were brought in. Although with the exceptions of Essen’s Nina Brüggemann and Górnik Łęczna’s Sylwia Matysik, they are all 21 or younger.
Lena Uebach and Merle Barth are off to Potsdam, Antonia Göransson was picked up by Växjö in her native Sweden, Karoline Heinze retired, Laura Sieger joined Meppen, Katharina Prinz dropped down to the Regionalliga with Recklinghausen, and Saskia Meier was released.
Joyce Prabel and 15-year-old Sofie Zdebel were promoted from the U17s and 16-year-old teenage sensation Chiara Bücher is venturing into senior football for the first time. Selina Garofalo was called up from the reserves. Lilla Turanyi joins from Hungária Budapest. Kristina Kögel was snapped up from Bayern II. Lara Marti was signed from Basel. And Viktoria Pinther and Verena Wieder joined from Sand and Freiburg, respectively.
Brüggemann is a solid pick-up and I’m intrigued by Matysik, but I can’t see much in the way of improvement from Leverkusen, to be honest. As I said, they will probably stay up, but Achim Feifel’s side is just not an exciting proposition.
Breakout Youngster: Juliane Wirtz, although only 19, played by far the most minutes last season, so she can definitely not be described as a breakout youngster anymore. Defensive midfielder Gianna Rackow will likely see her game time increase, but Lara Marti seems a more interesting option. The full-back is already a senior international and I think she could have a big impact this season and perhaps rack up a few assists, too.
MVP: Ivana Rudelic and Milena Nikolić were the side’s top scorers in 19/20 and that is unlikely to change this season. Rudelic scored more goals than Nikolić despite playing fewer minutes, so naturally, she is the favorite. Honorable mentions have to go to the aforementioned Wirtz and Hungarian midfielder Henrietta Csiszár, though. Both are vitally important members of the team and will play significant roles in the fight for survival.
That concludes part one of this little preview series, part two will be released tomorrow. I promise it will get less gloomy once we get past Duisburg!