It has been two weeks since the September international break, when the German national team won both games to reclaim top spot of their Euro qualifying group. Those victories came at a high cost, however, as Giulia Gwinn tore her ACL and will now miss most—if not all—of Bayern Munich’s season. Despite this setback, the Bavarians continued to lead the way. Let’s revisit how the past two weekends have gone for the Frauen-Bundesliga teams…
STILL ON TOP! 🔝
— FC Bayern Frauen (@FCBfrauen) October 5, 2020
Bayern’s squad depth
Although she had yet to score, Gwinn’s speed and two-way play on the right were integral to Bayern’s attack. Now playing without her and facing teams that sat deep, the Bavarians had to draw on their depth and grind out games. On matchday 3, a Marina Hegering header secured all three points against Freiburg. This past weekend, a long-range goal from Hanna Glas was all that separated Bayern and Essen for an hour, before Sydney Lohmann scored a penalty kick in stoppage time.
Having your defenders bail you out from set-pieces or low-percentage shots is not a sound strategy for success, and Gwinn’s absence surely had an effect on the lower scoring numbers. Thankfully, Bayern have held on thus far and they remain the only team yet to concede in the league. Striker Klara Bühl, a summer signing from Freiburg, also made her debut after a shoulder injury, so it was not all bad news for the Munich club.
— DFB-Frauenfußball (@DFB_Frauen) October 4, 2020
SC Sand got off the mark
SC Sand had been shockingly bad prior to the international break. It turned out that having your new head coach with the team could do wonders for on-field performances. Nora Häuptle was appointed head coach over the summer, but she could only join the team after September due to prior commitments with Swiss U-19s. Right after the international break, SC Sand picked up a hard-fought 1–0 win against fellow strugglers Duisburg on matchday 3. While they still have one of the worst goal differences in the league and lost to Turbine Potsdam on matchday 4, SC Sand’s improvements show that they are capable of getting results against teams outside of the top group.
— DFB-Frauenfußball (@DFB_Frauen) September 29, 2020
Wolfsburg’s long-term planning
Speaking of teams in the top group, Wolfsburg continued to roll and now sit second behind Bayern Munich on goal difference. Unlike Bayern, however, Wolfsburg delivered a string of good news over the international break. Having already signed Karina Sævik from Paris Saint-Germain, sporting director Ralf Kellermann recruited Dutch international Shanice van de Sanden from Lyon. Van de Sanden, of course, destroyed Wolfsburg in the 2018 Champions League final after coming on during extra time, and Die Wölfinnen will be glad to be on the same side now.
Sævik and Van de Sanden are both wingers signed to compensate for Ewa Pajor’s and Fridolina Rolfö’s absences. But Kellermann also planned for the future. Like Lena Oberdorf’s transfer last year, Kellermann already secured young Dutch striker Jöelle Smits from PSV next summer. Wolfsburg also announced that Tommy Stroot, head coach of FC Twente, will take over from Stephan Lerch in 2021. Stroot previously coached Meppen in the 2. Frauen-Bundesliga, and Kellermann has had opportunities to watch him up close with Anna-Lena Stolze on loan at Twente. Wolfsburg have the benefit to recruit from a position of strength, and these long-term moves demonstrate stability of a well-run club.
Will the real Hoffenheim please stand up?
Again speaking of teams in the top group, a gap has already opened up between the top four and the rest. Surprisingly, Hoffenheim are not near the top but instead are seventh, with four points from four games played. They played out a scoreless draw against Eintracht Frankfurt on matchday 3, a game where we said they had to get a result. On matchday 4, Hoffenheim finally got their first win of the season against last-placed Werder Bremen. Nicole Billa scored her second of the season in that game, while 18-year-old goalkeeper Ann-Kathrin Dilfer seems to have won head coach Gábor Gallai’s trust.
There are still plenty of games to be played for Hoffenheim to challenge for a top-three, Champions League qualifying position, but their margin of error is slim given how well Frankfurt and Potsdam have started out. If Hoffenheim do not pick up their pace (and with their star striker Billa already linked to Wolfsburg), it will be very difficult for them to keep their core intact next summer.
Duisburg’s scoring woes
While no one expected Duisburg to be challenging for European places, them being the only scoreless team four matchdays into the season is still eye-catching. And their schedule only gets tougher. Having played middling teams to open the season, they now face the current top-four teams in a row on matchdays 5–8. With that murderers’ row, it would not be surprising to see them bottom of the table after matchday 8.
With their biggest signing being Canadian fullback Sura Yekka, Duisburg will have to find goals from within the current squad somehow. Here’s an idea: why not actually play Taylor Kornieck? If securing the Orlando Pride loanee was such a coup for the club, surely having her on the field is better than sitting her on the bench. Duisburg have nothing to lose at this point anyway.
Fans watching from home
Another matchday, another broadcasting fiasco from the Frauen-Bundesliga. After four matchdays, the league is only showing 2.25 games per matchday on TV or online. On matchday 4, the marquee game of the week between Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen was bumped by Eurosport for the French Open tennis tournament, while another previously announced free stream did not happen without any explanation from the league. With extremely restricted attendance at most stadiums, many local supporters have no way of watching their clubs play. And with leagues from England, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States (among others) who make most if not all games available for streaming, the Frauen-Bundesliga’s inaccessibility is losing fans.
The DFB, who runs the Frauen-Bundesliga, decided on “Macht Lärm” (make noise) as the slogan for this season, but they probably did not envision it being used by fans to heckle the ongoing broadcasting fiasco. German supporters are now making loud noises on social media about their displeasure. Will the DFB finally listen?