Tight at the top
Coming into this match Munich lead Potsdam by a lone point, with a game in hand anything other than a loss would have been considered a good result for one of this season’s surprise packages. With the winter break looming the two teams started off as if they were just coming back from a break, not heading into one, neither team able to get any purchase in the game, passes refusing to flow, play broken up by attackers more than defenders.
As the game ticked to the quarter hour it was the visitors who’d had all the half-chances, working the home defence enough to win a number of set pieces, Felicitas Rauch’s flicked header the best chance, the returning captain frustrated to see it slip wide. Verena Faißt’s blushes spared when her headed clearance threatened to fly into her own net, the defender let off as the ball spun wide, Tinja-Riikka Korpela completely wrong-footed.
Following the nature of the game, Munich’s first chance was also at a set-piece, a deep free kick that found Vivianne Miedema’s head, Lisa Schmitz equal to the effort. With the ball cleared long, Svenja Huth with something to chase, nipping in before Korpela to leave the keeper in no-man’s land with the goal gaping, but her touch took the ball wide. The angle too tight to attempt the shot but with Rauch to aim for at the back post, Huth’s attempted cross was well-blocked by Faißt, the danger averted and the ball recycled once more.
A spell of concentrated pressure from the hosts looked to bear fruit, Potsdam unable to clear more than fifteen yards, red shirts piling forward but the game still fractured and the visitors were able to regain possession after Melanie Behringer’s weak 20-yard effort skewed wide. Whilst at the other end of the pitch yet another set-piece offered an opening, Elise Kellond-Knight’s deep delivery had Korpela streaking off of her line, her attempted clearance fell to Rauch.
But with Korpela only two yards in front of her, her chipped effort wasn’t enough to clear the keeper a faint fingertip keeping the ball alive in the danger zone only to be smuggled away after Potsdam had missed another two half-chances.
Another good chance went the way of the visitors three minutes before the break, Rauch pouncing on a poor pass through midfield to feed Huth on the overlap, Korpela quick off her line. The striker’s decision to go low a poor one as the advancing keeper, already gone to ground, saved well with her legs.
A wasted chance at one end of the pitch mirrored at the other as the Bavarians attacked with numbers, dark blue and deep red flooding Schmitz’ box, Behringer’s over-head kick caught nothing but air before the ball whipped across the face worked its’ way through a cluster of bodies at the far post, Leonie Maier striking only air as she went for goal.
A careless foul on Tabea Kemme just after the restart gifted the visitors yet another free kick, Kellond-Knight’s delivery right into the mixer was met by Johanna Elsig with a glancing header, the defender ghosting away from her marker, a suspect looking Korpela finally beaten. The perfect start to the half for a team that had been largely wasteful in the first-half, the Bavarian’s not on course for their seventh 1-0 of the year.
Two in a flash
As scrappy as the game had been in the first-half it was in the second, just slightly more open, with more spaces to theoretically be exploited, the match still incredibly stop-start, poor passing and clumsy fouls breaking play up. Munich’s position at the summit of the Bundesliga slipping as Turbine made it two, Huth was quick to react to a poor ball from Simone Laudehr to feed Rauch in the area, engulfed by red shirts, the last touch came off of Nora Holstad as the ball rolled into the net.
With Huth at the by-line with the ball once again, it looked to be three, Korpela out of position and Eseosa Aigbogun’s shot spinning towards goal only to be cleared off of the line by Maier. The miss costly as Munich attacked once more, Faißt’s dinked cross volleyed beyond Schmitz by Miedema just moments later.
Again the ball was recycled, a flurry of corners followed for the visitors, another glanced header from Elsig slipped across the face of the home goal but refused to curl in. The game trying to spark itself into life.
As the game ticked into the last 20 minutes and both Thomas Wörle and Matthias Rudolph went to this respective benches more and more gaps started to open up, the pendulum swinging in favour of the hosts. With the ball stuck between a cluster of players on the left side of midfield an improvised shot fired across the box hand Schmitz shuffling across her goal line to make a smart save, her goal suddenly under threat. With the attacks from the visitors more infrequent, substitutes Anna Gasper and Laura Lindner looked to link-up and use their fresh legs to catch the defence out but neither quite up to pace in the game to work Korpela.
Reduced to ten after Rauch went off with a shoulder injury, Potsdam looked tied in knots at the back as the Bavarians amped up the pressure – Wörle sent to the stands after voicing his objections when Nicole Rolser went down in the box under challenge from Elsig.
With a mess of bodies in the box, Miedema’s low effort was smartly cleared by Schmitz, the keeper quick off of her line, the next wave incoming. The last chance of the game falling to the hosts in the last minute of stoppage time, Laudehr’s neat header at a corner goal-bound, Schmitz plucking the ball from the air before it could roll under her or Rolser could nick it into the net.
The loss - their second of the season - pushes Munich down to second, two points adrift of Potsdam with one more game played, having failed to find a second goal in nine of the ten league matches they've played this year - a problem that hasn't followed them in all competitions.
The drop in points also allows last season's runners up, VfL Wolfsburg (sixth going into this weekend's fixtures) to leap-frog them should they win their match today as well as their match in hand, things very tight in the top half of the table.
Having only just signed a new deal with Die Roten, Wörle would have been aiming to make the occasion with a win but once again this year the current champions looked stale and lacking in real rhythm on the pitch, injuries surely playing their part but the Bavarians coming up short in domestic competition once more. His opposite number, Rudolph will be much the happier manager, able to take points off of the defending champions in their own back yard, especially with injuries mounting up in his squad too.
His team set to play twice more in the next seven days, at home to both Bayer 04 Leverkusen and MSV Duisburg, even forced to field a weakened squad there's no reason Turbine can't take all six points before the winter break and work on rehab over Janurary, knowing they're top of the pile.