VfL Wolfsburg - 1. FFC Frankfurt Preview: Domestic battle becomes European battle

The two sides fighting it out for a second place finish in Germany's Frauen-Bundesliga will also fight it out for a place in the UEFA Women's Champions League final.

VfL Wolfsburg - 1. FFC Frankfurt Preview: Domestic battle becomes European battle
Can the holders assert their authority? (Photo: nrhz.de)

VfL Wolfsburg and 1. FFC Frankfurt are fighting for a UEFA Women's Champions League spot in the Frauen-Bundesliga at the moment, and this weekend they begin the battle between them for a spot in this year's Champions League final.

The familiarity of their opponent and the low mileage to be totted up on the team bus are positives for both, but the former could work as a disadvantage for both too, with each knowing exactly what the other is about.

Recent form favours the Wolves; history the visitors

This will be the third meeting of the season between these two sides, with them having played each other twice in the league already.

It's Wolfsburg with the upper hand in 2015-16, having won both the encounters. In Frankfurt back in October, the Wolves emerged 2-0 victors after an own goal from Peggy Kuznik and a strike from Lena Goeßling had them ahead at the break.

In the reverse last month, Frankfurt took a 22nd minute lead through Dzsenifer Marozsan but would go on to lose the match 3-1. Desirée Schumann's red card on 77 minutes gave the Wolves a penalty, which Caroline Graham Hansen converted as part of a brace. A late goal from Zsanett Jakabfi then made sure.

This double means it's six games unbeaten for Wolfsburg against Frankfurt, with four of the last five games ending as a win. Frankfurt's last win came in the DFB Pokal in 2013, with Kerstin Garefrekes the only scorer in a 1-0 victory.

On home soil, Wolfsburg have never lost to FFC, but the latter do boast a better record overall, winning 12 of their 24 encounters to the Wolves' nine.

European endeavours

On the continent, however, things are different. Frankfurt are the holders, the team to beat, while Wolfsburg are former winners looking to reclaim their crown. In domestic action, the Wolves may be the favourites, but they are underdogs in this competition.

FFC have looked shaky through the tournament though, needing penalties to pass both LSK Kvinner and FC Rosengård. Wolfsburg have been granted an easier run-in, but their performances against WSL 1 champions Chelsea in the last 16 showed their quality against top opposition.

Both have shown their ruthless side already - Frankfurt hammering eight past Standard Liège and Wolfsburg six past Brescia - but it's going to be more about game plan and taking rare chances in this tie than total dominance.

Wolfsburg have been outstanding throughout the competition so far. (Photo: VfL Wolfsburg Frauen)
Wolfsburg have been outstanding throughout the competition so far. (Photo: VfL Wolfsburg Frauen)

The time is now

Going into the game, it's Wolfsburg with the better form. With 10 wins from their last 11 in all competitions - that anomaly a draw with soon to be German champions Bayern Munich - Frankfurt are the next scalp on their agenda.

They have been dealt some big setbacks in recent weeks with injuries though, with Hansen's the biggest. The Norway international is out for the rest of the season, joining Noelle Maritz in the treatment room.

Julia Simic was also ruled out for the rest of the season earlier this week, having suffered a serious foot injury.

For FFC, they looked to be rolling into the game with the momentum of a steam train after defeating Bayern and ending their unbeaten run, but a shock 2-0 defeat to SC Freiburg last time out abruptly brought them back to Earth.

They will hope then that Garefrekes and Marozsan, both doubts for this fixture, are passed fit as they will need their quality to bounce back against the Wolves.