To the surprise of nobody, Wolfsburg completed the formalities on Sunday and are now officially Women’s Bundesliga champions once again. After a season where the title went to Bayern Munich, it’s back with an equally well resourced club. The changing of the guard in Germany, which some prematurely predicted, has been delayed, at least.
The restored champions finished on a high, with their biggest win of the season. The 10-1 mauling of relegated Carl Zeiss Jena saw a variety of players help themselves: Ewa Pajor, Sveindis Jane Jonsdottir, Felicitas Rauch, Lena Lattwein, Jill Roord, Alex Popp, Tabea Wassmuth, Pauline Bremer and Svenja Huth all got on the scoresheet in a demonstration of the multi-faceted nature of Wolfsburg’s threat.
In Europe, Wolfsburg may be falling behind the brilliant Barcelona side who beat them in the Champions League, while the game’s global superstars are playing in England and Spain, not Germany. But domestically, they remain, as they say in Munich: Forever Number One. At least for the time being.
There are good reasons why finals are often unattractive games. Two teams that know they have to win but often spend more time worrying about a loss. Nervous, disjointed, cramped, low scoring, the match between Turbine Potsdam and Eintracht Frankfurt was played in the style of a mini final. The key clash in the battle for third place, which carries a Champions League spot, was exciting only by virtue of its context. Three points separated the two clubs before the match, now it is zero, with Potsdam ahead on goal difference (by nine goals) ahead of the final round of the season.
After a difficult first half, Frankfurt showed in the second half that they play better football and are the more mature, agile and creative team, in short: Champions League contenders. And Potsdam are rather lucky to be up there. Ex-Potsdam player Lara Prasnikar, of all people, opened the door to the Champions League in the 72nd minute, then Verena Hanshaw followed up with a dream goal into the corner for 2-0. Potsdam, who completely disintegrated, could well have lost by even more.
“The longer the game lasted, the more possession we had, which gave us courage and strength. After the goal, we were able to play a little more freely,” said Hanshaw, whose team celebrated as if they had won the title. “The dream of the Champions League is alive. And we want to complete it next week.”
Verena Hanshaw celebrates the goal that could secure Frankfurt Champions League football
Though goal difference is in Potsdam’s favor, they travel to Bayern Munich in their final match next week. Frankfurt host Bremen, who are down in ninth. To the winner, the riches of the Champions League, and the potential for development and growth that brings. As a result, Potsdam’s Merle Barth will not give up: “We know that there is still a match point, it is not lost yet.”
The increasing professionalism of the women’s game has made it all the more remarkable that Sand remain in the top flight. And the club, from the town of Willstätt, Baden-Württemberg with a population of about 10,000 are still fighting to stay up after a 1-0 win over Cologne put unexpected pressure on SGS Essen.
Traditionally a development club, Essen have been picked apart in recent years and may need a result next Sunday. Luckily for them, they host Jena while Sand must travel to face Hoffenheim.
Rumor has it there are countries that still have an exciting title race that reaches the last matchday. England is one of them. The widespread belief is that a lot of money ruins the game, but that is not entirely true: a lot of investment also tends to make the competition more equal. So it is in the Women’s Super League.
After both teams won on Sunday, Chelsea became champions on the last matchday by just a single point. Arsenal would have had the better goal difference had it come to that.
The west London side have now established themselves as the pre-eminent force in England, after winning the 2018, 2020 and 2021 titles. After a highly turbulent year for the club, given the sanctions on former owner Roman Abramovich, any good news is welcome. Meanwhile, in Spain and Italy, Barcelona and Juventus were already confirmed as champions before the final games.
This story was originally written in German.