2016/17 AFBL Bundesliga Preview (in english)

What happened last season:

There was a lot of positive anticipation last season after the World Cup despite the 4th place hadnt been making the fans very happy. And for the first in Bundesliga history we could see a similar picture like in international womens football. The lower ranked clubs were able to challenge the top clubs. After the top4 clubs had never lost a single match against any club ranked 5-12 the whole year before. The different set up of the NWSL makes this the rule there but I cant rethink of any European top league where this has been the case ever before that the bottom clubs are not far away and a real challenge for the top clubs. Seeing that development was the positive aspect at the beginning of the season. At least not in Germany, France, England and Sweden.
But over time it became clear that this was not only due to improvements of the smaller clubs but also a sharp decline of (most of) the previous top clubs.
Former powerhouse Turbine Potsdam had their worst ever ranking in Bundesliga history. And 1. FFC Frankfurt who were the long time rivals of Potsdam for the championship race over the last 10 years also lost a lot of quality. The club who always could afford to spend the most money on player wages saw big sponsors end their engagement. Frankfurt could manage to stay in the race for second place against VfL Wolfsburg nevertheless until the last day. But that kind of also demonstrated how dismal also Wolfsburgs season went. Bayern were champions with a huge gap but couldnt manage to defeat Twente in the second round of the Champions League.

What will be interesting to watch during this season:

Bayern Munich and VfL Wolfsburg can easily afford to buy any player from any other team they want. So they have to do a lot of things wrong if another team can get even close. Bayern have won last season by a huge margin by sticking with a conservative and defensive approach “against the ball”. The question is whether this is still good enough or will be exploited by other teams. Wolfsburg have at least tried to add more technical skills and improving their play in possession of the ball. But it was more of collecting negative experiences than a break through on a difficult journey.

1. FFC Frankfurt are set up to see a similar decline like Potsdam last year because they lost yet much more of their quality players. Possibly injury problems might see them even getting in trouble to avoid relegation playing a risky game on a low budget with a very small roster. Though if the key players stay injury free they might be able to avoid that. Turbine Potsdam are expected to steady their ship after legend manager Bernd Schroeder quit after more than 40 years in charge of the club. We will see whether their level remains so deep nobody would have dreamt of two years ago. But at least with the disappearance from Frankfurt they are now also in the mix for third place which thus will be a wide open contest. SC Freiburg seem to be the club who affords the next most spendings on wages. SC Sand have shown they are a good team last season but lost their manager Fischinger who was a key figure in their rise. Finally SGS Essen are a very talented squad who should claim 3rd place if the new manager can make their individual class count. SC Freiburg might be able if their U17s can make another step forward and the club starts to understand how good they are which hasnt yet happened seemingly. 1899 Hoffenheim finally are also a team that is not too far away. Here we see the interesting situation that the hobby of the manager is the goal of the club. Improving talented players from lower levels. But they have knocked at their top border during last season already. Unlikely, but they might have found a next step.

We already mentioned in our Olympics takeaways how the gold medal was welcomed by the fans without much enthusiasm. Neither the clubs nor the dfb (as business head of the league) made nearly any effort to use this for any promotion of the game or the league. Compare this to the victory tour or even the reception of the bronze medal last year in England. It is without words and an example how much room for improvement is in support of womens football in Germany.

This is also shown in the club efforts. Seems behind the scenes not only flagship club 1.FFC Frankfurt are struggling to find proper partners and sponsors. The league – still by far the richest on average in Europe – has again lost quality players to other leagues they couldnt replace. Bayern preferred going with their system of play “against the ball” instead of finding a way of integrating Vero Boquete who finally left for Paris Saint-Germain. Dzenifer Maroszan left the league also for Olympique Lyon. And Iva Landeka left for FC Rosengard. Probably no player of this level joined the bundesliga from outside and it will be very interesting to see how these three will do at their future club. It will be very interesting to see Paris Saint-Germain with the duo of Cruz-Boquete in the center. It will be interesting to see what Dzenifer Maroszan does at Lyon. There is a big risk that with 16 non competitive matches her focus will get even further away of the tactical requirements of top class performances. A pity there is not much coverage available from the Swedish league to see what Landeka does there.

Last year we waited with a possible first guess for the ranking until after the first day. And obviously that still would give a better insight of what might happen. On the other side the first results might be also very random so we can do some gamble here already.

1 Bayern
2 Wolfsburg
3 Freiburg
4 Potsdam
5 Essen
6 Sand
7 Hoffenheim
8 Frankfurt
9 Leverkusen
10 Duisburg
11 Jena
12 M’gladbach

 

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