Frauen-Bundesliga - Week 22 and Season Review: Champions finish with a shaky draw

Frauen-Bundesliga - Week 22 and Season Review: Champions finish with a shaky draw

Munich seal European football in the last five minutes of the season

Sophie Lawson

With almost all of the placements already confirmed there was still last minute drama in the Frauen-Bundesliga as Vivianne Miedema secured Champions League football for Munich for the coming season, Potsdam forced down to third.

VfL Wolfsburg 2-2 USV Jena

Already having won the title, Wolfsburg still wanted to put on a show for their home fans before being presented with the FBL trophy, Jena however, had other ideas as for the second time this year they took the lead against the Wolves. Julia Arnold the one to fire her side ahead at the AOK as she got ahead of Stephanie Bunte to nip Dolores Silva’s cross in at the near post, Merle Frohms unable to get a clean contact to clear the ball.

When Laura Ramos added a second on the stroke of half-time it didn’t look like it was Wolfsburg’s day, Ramos’ header enough to push the ball into the turf and up towards the far post, Frohms’ once again just too far from the ball.

The second-half followed as the first had, the hosts on top with the better of the chances but everything put just wide or well blocked or saved by the visitors but just as it had earlier in the year, Jena’s lead disappeared after the hour. Caroline Graham Hansen deadly as ever from the spot after Alex Popp had been felled in the area, Justien Odeurs beaten with twenty minutes left for the Wolves. Lively all game, Lara Dickenmann finally got her goal eight minutes from time, tucking Hansen’s low ball away.

The result sees Jena finish a confirmed ninth, the team unlucky at times throughout the year and arguably better than their points total would suggest but it's clear Katja Greulich is building a strong team that can compete with the best in the Bundesliga. 

Though Wolfsburg were not at their best in the last two games, they ran riot this year, the narrow and nervy wins from the first-half of the season disapating as they found their way, their goal differece boosted week in, week out. With Caroline Graham Hasen returning from injury and striking up an instant partnership with Danish captain, Pernille Harder the team that already bosted a fine attack looked lethal, the goals coming from everywhere as the team flowed from one game to the next, their biggest stumbling block a wiley Freiburg team. Whils it's always hard to guage how a new manager will do and what the Wolves will be like without Ralf Kellermann at the helm there is simply no denying the players they can put on the pitch. 

Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1-3 SC Freiburg

It was a match of contrasting abilities when SCF travelled to Leverkusen for their last game of the season, one side going from strength to strength, the other yet to find their best this season. The hosts took the lead at the mid-way point of the first-half when Hasret Kayikci flicked Lina Magull’s floated cross over Leonie Doege and into the far side of the net, the ‘keeper under fire again ten minutes later as she timed a challenge on Magull all wrong to concede a penalty.

However, Doege recovered well and atoned for her error by saving Juliane Maier’s rather weak effort from the spot, the save even more important when Lisa Schwab sent her free kick around the wall and into Laura Benkarth’s far corner just before the break.

The parity was short-lived though and Sandra Starke got her side back into the lead just after the restart when she pounced on a terrible missed grab from Doege, Starke happy to roll the ball in the unguarded net. The win wrapped up by Clara Schöne after the hour when she sent the ball past Doege from six yards, the hosts desperately trying to scramble a corner clear as Freiburg did all but break the door down in an attempt to find a third.

After seven seasons in the top flight, Leverkusen have returned back to 2 Bundesliga, their relegation chartable from the start of the year, the performances just not there for the most part, the odd flash of promise soon snuffed out with another lackadaisical match.

With a number of quality players in their ranks it’s a wonder that they slipped so far, so fast and whilst some will be leaving for pastures greener, it’s hard to see why the more promising would be staying, the team not guaranteed an instant return to the top tier. It’s set to be a summer of reflection and rebuilding for 04.

One of the most exciting teams in the Bundesliga this season, it’s not a surprise to see Freiburg so close to the top three, the young side a fearless one that will always score goals and cause problems for their opponents. For SCF there’s a little more balance required across the pitch to plug their goal difference, the team a little porous at times but if Jens Scheuer can keep the team together, specifically the likes of Carolin Simon, Lina Magull, Hasret Kayikci and Sandra Starke together there’s no reason they couldn’t even challenge for top two next season.

With a number of very promising youth players (Giulia Gwinn, Klara Bühl, Janina Minge ect.) in the ranks too, this is a team that will be consistently be bringing top talents through the challenge however, will always be keeping them in Freiburg. 

Bayern München 2-0 SGS Essen

Knowing that they were to need a win at home if Potsdam won in Duisburg (with a draw not enough) to confirm Champions League football for 2017-18, Munich found themselves frustrated by Essen and when Nicole Rolser’s 35 minute shot canned out off of the upright it looked like it wasn’t to be their day. But the Bavarians dug in and kept creating and working where they could, their persistency paying off when Vivianne Miedema finally broke the deadlock five minutes from time.

The Dutch international held her line perfectly to slip behind and latch onto substitute Melanie Leupolz’ lofted ball before knocking it past Lisa Weiß. The match quickly going from bad to worse for Essen as Sara Doorsoun was dismissed as the team lined up for the restart.

A man light and pushed up searching for a last minute equaliser the visitors were caught short when Sara Däbritz took advantage of a sloppy touch from Lena Ostermeier, the attacker nibbling the ball away before streaking through the deserted half. With Weiß well out of her box, Däbritz touched the ball through to Miedema who sent the ball into the open goal, her last action for the Bavarians.

As stated the win was enough for Munich to finish the season in second and confirm European football for the coming UWCL season, but whilst they only finished two points short of Wolfsburg they carried nowhere near the same gravitas as the Champions.

With games routinely won by the odd goal there has been little about this team that’s stood out, injuries undoubtedly plaguing their season but whilst lower placed Potsdam and Freiburg have caught the eye, Die Roten haven’t. The style of football effective for now but as seen when they came up against a team like PSG, they got played off of the pitch, the players they’re set to lose in the offseason a giant blow for the stability of the side.

On the back of a strange year, Essen have shone in spots and looked completely out of their depth in others, the team lacking any kind of consistency other than inconsistency, another side set to lose some stalwarts over the next months, Daniel Kraus will have some serious rebuilding to do. 

MSV Duisburg 1-2 Turbine Potsdam

Needing a win for UWCL no matter what – and knowing that even three points could see them finish third – there was little in the way of wiggle room for a Potsdam team that lead the league for 203 days.

Having been looking nowhere near their best for the last handful of games, the Turbines soon found themselves behind to MSV after Stefanie Weichelt had chased through with the ball, getting past Caroline Siems with ease before rifling the ball into the bottom corner. But digging deep the visitors drew level just before the break when Johanna Elsig nodded on Elise Kellond-Knight’s whipped free-kick, Felicitas Rauch the one to get the decisive touch just in front of Lisa Klostermann.

Even with Potsdam frantic for a winner, the traffic wasn’t all one-way and Duisburg saw a couple of good chances go begging before Laura Lindner found the winner four minutes after coming on when the substitute half-volleyed Tabea Kemme’s dinked ball beyond the teenage goalkeeper.

With Munich winning at home, the result was of little consequence for the Turbines – though a loss would have seen them slip to fourth – but after having been on top for so much of the season it’s hard not to be disappointed with how they finished. If you look at not just this season but the last years under Bernd Schröder, there are only positives to be taken from the team that finally seems to be a happy one again, the style under Matthias Rudolph an attractive one that is, for the most part, effective.

But if you just look at this season there are questions to be asked of Potsdam’s mental strength (their “bottle”), the team seeming to wobble under the pressure of the chasing pack, their downfall their own against Wolfsburg, a less than convincing performance against Leverkusen speaking to the nerves once more before their capitulation against Munich. A third-place finish indicative of the last month of the season, not the football that flowed before. 

For their first season in the Bundesliga it was a welcome return of a Duisburg team for many, the team easily out-performing fellow promoted side, Mönchengladbach and there are plenty of positives to be taken from what is arguably a successful season for Inka Grings’ side.

Whilst there were mistakes along the way and the team might have had an over-reliance on Rahel Kiwic’s aerial ability, Duisburg have laid down strong foundations and if they can continue on at this pace should be able to cement their place in the league for years to come. Whilst they haven’t been earthshattering they’ve consistently just done enough when they’ve needed to, the main bulk of the team far from young, an injection of fresh blood next year could really give them a shot in the arm.

1899 Hoffenheim 3-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

After a less than glorious season in the top flight, Gladbach might have been looking for a last flourish before returning to 2. Bundesliga but there was little joy to be had as the hosts took to the ground running when Nicole Billa turned the ball home two minutes in. The Austrian integrational doubling the advantage just before the half-hour with a touch of luck as her deflected shot sprung into the air and looped over Christina Bellinghoven.

In a parting gift, Kristin Demann powered the ball into the right side of the net form outside the area, the German international capping off her 95th and last appearance for Hoffenheim with her fourteenth goal for the club.

With just nine wins this year it’s a surprise that the match marked 1899’s fourth win on the bounce, the team one of the more consistent in the BL this year, rarely torn apart but maybe lacking a little up top, the players they’re losing between now and the start of the new season a real blow.

For Borussia, the season couldn’t end fast enough, whilst it looked like they were slowly going to find their feet at the start of the season, it just didn’t happen and with 66 goals conceded it’s been a miserable year for the team from NRW and they drop straight back into the second tier. 

SC Sand 1-0 FFC Frankfurt

Despite the Frankfurters having the better of it in the first hour, the hosts took the lead when Nina Burger met Claire Savin’s ball in the air to thump her header past Cara Bösl for the only goal on the match. The goal one more of the stranger seen with Milena Nikolić felled in the box moments before and still down, barely moving as the match continued around her.

Both Mandy Islacker and Jackie Groenen continued to come close for the visitors as the game wore on, though not able to capitalise at any point even after the hosts were reduced to ten after a second bookable offence by Verena Aschauer late in the day.

Finishing the year eight, Sand have had a checkered season the loss of their coach just before the league resumed at the start of the year a tremendous blow though Richard Dura did well to steady the ship and get the team back on course. Though never going to blow teams away, Sand have more than enough quality on the pitch to compete, a Pokal final later in the week testament to their ability over 90 minutes.

In what has been a weird season for them, FFC have finished rather off of the pace, the ability more than there on the pitch but with almost fragmented play on the pitch, the team still struggling after losing the likes of Dzsenifer Marozsán and Célia Šašić; the season has felt more like a dry run for next. But for a side who’ve had the top goalscorer in their ranks for the last four seasons on the bounce, (Šašić twice and Islacker this season and last) it’s a wonder that they’re so far behind the top four.

FBL table at the end of the season (Credit: DFB)
FBL table at the end of the season (Credit: DFB)