What’s Been Happening In German Women’s Football

The Title Race is Going Right Down to the Wire

When Bayern and Wolfsburg, the Frauen-Bundesliga’s top two, faced off, it was understandably dubbed a title-decider. But in truth, the game yielded no such clarity, as both sides came away with a point. The happier of the two will undoubtedly be Bayern, though, since they retained their two-point lead at the summit.

With two games remaining this season, it is the league leaders who have the tougher schedule coming up – away at Leverkusen and then Frankfurt at home. However, neither the Werkself nor the Eagles really have anything to play for (yes, the former could still mathematically qualify for the Champions League, but the odds of that materializing are slim to none). Wolfsburg, too, still have to face Frankfurt before they host Bremen on the final matchday of the campaign.

Of course, anything can happen in football, but Bayern should realistically see this through without too much fuss considering that a win and a draw should be enough to confirm the title as they have an almost insurmountable advantage on goal difference (65 to Wolfsburg’s 45).

The FBL in a Video Game? Yes, Please!

THQ Nordic’s new football manager game WE ARE FOOTBALL, which could be released as early as next month, will include a fully licensed Frauen-Bundesliga, 2. Frauen-Bundesliga, and DFB-Pokal, making it the first game of its kind to incorporate women’s football. Developer Gerald Köhler spoke with Kicker about how the women’s gameplay will differ from that of the men.

Slight adjustments have been made, “to strike the right balance between realism and playability.” For one, the women won’t have the financial muscle of men’s clubs, but will still have more than enough resources to wheel and deal, even if that means giving them larger budgets than they would perhaps possess in real life. Attendances will also be inflated so as to not make teams completely reliant upon sponsors to generate revenue. There will also be special types of contracts, pregnancies, and, since women’s players retire earlier on average than their male counterparts, this will also be reflected in the game.

The game’s official release date is June 10.

Köln are Back

Köln have successfully bounced back from last season’s relegation at the first time of asking after utterly dominating the South division of the 2. Frauen-Bundesliga. Promotion was confirmed (with four games to spare) after a 7-2 win over Würzburg – helped by the fact that the closest team eligible for a spot in the top flight was seventh-placed Saarbrücken (Andernach, Ingolstadt didn’t apply for a license, the other sides were all reserve teams) – and the title race came to a premature conclusion just a few days later with a 3-0 win over Frankfurt II.

With a current record of twelve wins, one draw, 37 goals scored, and only nine conceded, Effzeh absolutely deserve their spot back among the elite and this time, they’re intent on staying there for the long term. They already invested quite a bit in their side prior to this season with the signings of Sharon Beck, Mandy Islacker, who is currently the league’s top scorer, and Lena Lotzen, who has since retired due to her recurring battles with injury, and Köln are expected to bring in even more top-quality talent in the coming weeks and months; Jana Beuschlein has already been signed from Hoffenheim for an undisclosed fee, Irini Ioannidou arrives on a free transfer from Essen, and Swiss goalkeeper Elvira Herzog has returned to the club after a year at Freiburg.

Can Anyone Stop Jena?

While Köln have already been promoted, the other team that departed the Frauen-Bundesliga last year is also on the verge of an immediate return. Carl-Zeiss Jena (formerly USV Jena) could officially wrap up promotion to the FBL on Sunday with a win against Gütersloh. It certainly won’t be a straightforward affair, though, as Gütersloh sit second in the table and could still catch the league leaders.

Unfortunately, the result of this game will likely only be a formality and of little importance in the grand scheme of things because Gütersloh have already announced that, even if they were to overtake Jena and win the North division of the 2. Frauen-Bundesliga, they will not partake in the top flight next season for financial reasons.

It’s incredibly unlikely, but if this result ends in catastrophe for Jena and they completely capitulate against Wolfsburg II and RB Leipzig in the final two matches of the season, Borussia Bocholt, who are currently six points behind the league leaders, could still mathematically overtake them and snatch promotion away from them. Will that happen? No, it won’t. But still, it’s a possibility.

Kumagai is Back, Will Maier Follow Suit?

Some eight years after leaving FFC Frankfurt, 2011 World Cup winner Saki Kumagai will make a triumphant return to the Bundesliga next season in what is surely one of the biggest transfer coups of the year. Bayern have announced that they’ve picked up the five-time European champion in their bid to eventually bring the UWCL trophy to Bavaria. Kumagai has signed a two-year contract and will make this already seemingly invincible team even more robust defensively.

Speaking of Bayern, one of their former players, Leonie Maier, has announced that she will leave Arsenal this summer. Where she’ll go is still unknown, but there will definitely be interest from several high-profile European clubs and, who knows, perhaps even a return to Germany could be on the cards. Wolfsburg don’t really need her – unless one of their full-backs departs, of course – but Bayern could possibly be thinking about bringing her back; left-back isn’t necessarily Maier’s natural position, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bayern were looking for a potential upgrade on Carolin Simon. Frankfurt and Hoffenheim will unquestionably also be interested, but whether they can attract a player of her repute is debatable.

Elsewhere on the transfer front, Karina Saevik has made headlines by leaving Wolfsburg with immediate effect in order to return to her native Norway, joining Avaldsnes IL. It’s absolutely not a surprise to see her leave the club – it simply hasn’t worked out for her – but eyebrows were certainly raised considering that Avaldsnes aren’t necessarily the biggest club in Norway, although given Avaldsnes’ proximity to her hometown of Haugesund, it’s probably fair to assume that this decision was inspired by more than just footballing matters.

Nadine Keßler on the State of Women’s Football

In an interview with Der Tagesspiegel, UEFA’s Head of Women’s Football Nadine Keßler discussed the new Champions League format, professionalism in England, and how women’s football is starting to generate its own revenue and is thus no longer totally reliant on men’s football. You can find the full (German) interview here.

As regards the WSL, Keßler lauded the FA Player and the league’s new broadcast deal. “The thing that the English got right from the start was marketing,” she said. “Thanks to the FA Player, people all around the globe can stream WSL games.” It’s a pertinent topic in Germany because substandard broadcasting has bedeviled the Frauen-Bundesliga for years, and it’s still something that urgently needs to be fixed.

Bremen are Safe, Duisburg are Down

It’s official, Werder Bremen have confirmed their spot in next season’s top-flight with a 2-1 win over MSV Duisburg and results elsewhere going their way. Personally, before the season started, I expected Bremen to go straight back down, and six wins from twenty games and a goal difference of -34 is definitely nothing to write home about, but ultimately, they won’t really care and neither should they, achieving safety is impressive enough.

Duisburg, on the other hand, have been nothing short of depressing. The former European champions have picked up a measly four points thus far and the only game they managed to win all season was a Pokal clash against 2. Bundesliga outfit Bocholt. Relegation has been a certainty since their 4-0 loss to Wolfsburg back in late April, but make no mistake, this had been coming for a while; they arguably should already have gone down last season. Even though it’s anything but surprising to see them depart the elite level, it’s still a massive shame given the club’s history. There is absolute carnage in Meiderich right now and this latest cause célèbre is just one of the many symptoms of the club’s atony.

With two matchdays remaining, it’s still up in the air whether Sand or Meppen will join Duisburg in the second tier next season, but this question can already be settled this weekend because the two face each other in Meppen on Sunday. If Sand lose, they’re down.

Potsdam win the Traditionsduell

On Sunday, Turbine Potsdam welcomed Eintracht Frankfurt to the Karl-Liebknecht-Stadion in the battle of the two most storied clubs in German women’s football. Yes, Frankfurt have a different name, yes, both aren’t what they once were, but it’s nonetheless always a thrilling encounter and this game certainly lived up to the hype.

Dina Orschmann gave Turbine the lead early on with a mishit cross (or delicate chip?), but Laura Feiersinger equalized a few minutes before the break by blasting the ball into the empty net. Just after half time, Frankfurt thought they had found the go-ahead goal when Barbara Dunst smacked the ball against the crossbar from 30 yards and it bounced off the keeper’s heel. However, instead of finding the back of the net as it seemed destined to, the ball went centimeters wide as if almost defying the laws of physics. Mere moments later, Potsdam went down the other end and Karen Holmgaard scored what turned out to be the winner.

Those three points could prove invaluable to Potsdam, because the twelve-time German champions are still in with a realistic shot at that coveted third UWCL spot currently occupied by Hoffenheim.

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