AFBL Bundesliga day 14: VfL Wolfsburg – Bayern Munich 2:0

Situation:

The strange situation in the Bundesliga is still very much alive. The two big spending teams of the league are ranked “only” second and third despite being able to pick out and buy all the players they want from the other Bundesliga clubs and most of Europe. Though “smaller” SC Freiburg and SGS Essen both lost ground since the break Turbine Potsdam is still in the lead. And only the winner of this match would remain within striking distance to the leader with 5 respectively 6 points behind when the match started. Thus even a draw would be possibly costly in the bid for the championship. But there was also the precious second place at stake which is needed to guarantee a place in next years Champions League competition.

Headline: a wild encounter

Wolfsburgs Coach Kellermann mentioned in the post game interview that it could have ended 6:5 and he didnt like to see his team giving thus many chances away. That was understandable. Though 6:5 was a little bit high. But for several years this had been a pairing where goals came very rare. Some 0:0 results. Some 1:0. Then there were already as much as 3 goals in the 2:1 win for Wolfsburg in their first match of the season in Munich. And we had even more chances here. Both apparently invested a lot of fight and went for it. And the early goal helped further to get things rolling. Though it wasnt Bayern who dominated the first half after the goal. But the second they got more possession. However at the cost of a rather open defense. And Wolfsburg was invited to counter…

First half

Bayern looked like being on a mission in the early minutes of the game. However the first real good opportunity fell to the feet of Tessa Wullaert who gave an early indication that this wasnt the day of the precise shots on goal. Because she sent the cross deflected from Korpela far wide into the stands. Bayern seemed to have more possession and Wolfsburgs attacks in the first minutes were more kind of isolated counter attacks. But then the first goal came out of nowhere. And like the missed opportunity from Wullaert this was also a little bit typical of the match. Usually the teams are looking for the one mistake and the one gap that their opponents leave open during such a game. Sometimes for as long as 90 minutes. Sometimes it never comes along. But in this game we saw an quite unusual amount of such invitations. The 1:0 resulted from a rather easy misjudgement of a header. Gina Lewandowski got the curve of the ball wrong, ran the wrong way too far on a high and far distance clearance out of the Wolfsburg half. She missed the ball completely to leave Pernille Harder a free way to run alone at Korpela. Harder hadnt the best of touches on her slightly zigzag way either but finally managed to get the ball in the net nevertheless.

A surprising lead at that point. But Wolfsburg soon “earned” their lead by adding some more big chances. Because Bayerns defense presented much more gaps than usual. Dickenmann couldnt get the connection right but should have scored from about 6 meters after a cross from Hansen and Gunnarsdottir also had some good opportunity after a mis-kicked clearance from the Bayern defense. Bayern couldnt get their defensive lines closed tightly enough and it were mainly Harder and Hansen who both could find too many gaps in between and exploit them with their enormous speed.

Second half

But Bayern regrouped after the change. The team could much better make up for some deficit in organisation by putting in even more fighting spirit and resistance. And Wolfsburg was happy staying deep and waiting for counter attacks. However they allowed Bayern too much control and chances as well. Unfortunately for Bayern only the lonely Miedema seemed to pose a threat to the Wolfsburg goal. And for that she was forced to create most of her chances and take them all on her own. Might be that was what cost her some precious energy too much. She got some good shooting positions and had not bad shots on goal but neither was good enough to test Schult comprehensively.

Apart from Miedema the rest of the team had to offer far too less getting dangerous in the box or creating something outside of the box. So it was only a matter of time when Wolfsburg would bring the game to bed. They had a few golden opportunities missed after always dangerous counter attacks in the second half but finally made it. Again Harder played a main role initiating an attack on the right flank and holding her run in the right moment just to stay on side when she got the ball back. Her pingpoint accurate cross found the run of Kerschowski who smashed it volley home with a little bit of good luck. 2:0 and that looked very much like game over though you never know what can happen after getting one back.

There was though only a half chance left for Bayern when again Miedemas shot from a tight angle nearly found the head of the approaching Lena Lotzen who was subbed in late. But there was far too much missing from the rest of the team that once again failed to produce any chance in 90 minutes without initiation from Miedema.

Wolfsburg was a deserved winner but will have to finish more clinically against stronger defenses.

Tactical View

image of tactical starting line-up Frauen Bundesliga VfL-Wolfsburg-BayernMunich1617
tactical line-up

Both teams did make some changes compared to the Cup-match 4 days ago. However that seemed to be due not much to an overall switch in tactical plan. More maybe to replace single individuals by fresher ones.
Wolfsburg played a 4-4-2 that was the closest to school book like we have seen them play for many years. The back line with Blaesse – Fischer – Peter – Maritz. Midfield with Wullaert – Gunnarsdottir – Popp – Dickenmann. And Hansen and Harder up front. The flexibility of Harder who switched her position very often was a big step forward of making better use of the spaces in the opposite half. Hansen also only temporarily stuck to her right flank. Even Popps positional play starts to fit better in the system of the team – though there is still room to improve. Looking back the strange role she played which often was difficult to describe was probably not intended but blurred positional capabilities.

Bayern started with a back line of 3: Abbe – Wenninger – Lewandowski. Maier on the right and Baunach on the left made it a back line of 5 for large spells of the match. Then Behringer in her typical role in front of the defense. Mostly supported by Däbritz and Lohmann in defense. And Rolfö supported Miedema in the attack getting back to support the midfield sometimes as well.

 

Resume and Prospect

Bayern are now 6 points and a worse goal differential behind Turbine Potsdam. A team that only lost 3 points in all during the first half of the season. Maybe Bayern can find some ease from standing with their backs to the wall now. The team rather never looked the same like last year. It is getting more and more clear they cant get Melanie Leupolz replaced as the dominant force in the center. Strengthening the cohesion within the team instead would have been worth a try. But it seemed even more disintegrated organisationally. Everywhere suddenly the proper coordination with the next teammate seems to lack. Something that worked out so well over the last two years.
Here for example you saw Lewandowski and Baunach on the left side of the defense often having problems to coordinate their activities well enough and thus often being more vulnerable than necessary. For example you saw Rolfö and Lohmann being not well accustomed to the style of play of the rest of the team. It looked like Bayern might need to do better in training to improve this. Rolfö is type of a smart player and tried her best though and they missed her in the second half. And that Lewandowski is better on the wing than in the back line of 3 atm was already seemingly correct mentioned from my friend digger here. Though it was bad luck mainly it sometimes are these little things that sum up big at the end of the day.

Without opening play over the right wing with Leonie Maier the main alternative route to initiate attacks got also lost since Maier seems impeded for whatever reason. The only working way to be dangerous was once again when Vivianne Miedema was involved. But having to help building up the attack from deep she missed the power to put the chances away when she was ready for the shot up front. Nobody seemingly though could feed her the balls she wants in or around the box. She is still young and it was very good to see how she tries to make the best out of the given circumstances. These problems have been obvious more or less since years. Maybe they were exposed now finally clearly enough? Though having Miedema, Lotzen, and now buying Damnjanovic shortly after Rolfö. Iwabuchi, Gerhard, Evans, Däbritz … is there someone leaving?

Also very interesting was the timing of the substitution of Lena Lotzen. Very good to see her back. Would be interesting to know why she was used for 10 minutes only. Because it seems to be difficult to see why she is fit enough for 10 minutes but not more? The level of the other offensive players suggested that even 50% of the “old” Lotzen would have been more dangerous than no danger at all. Even more so as even in her 10 minutes she could get closer to scoring by simply knowing where to be in the right moment than the whole rest of the team apart from Miedema together in their 90.

Once again we saw yet another impression of that the younger generation of players is again better than the actual. Lohmann showed she was already well above average in her capabilities of handling the ball and the game.

Will Bayern show some reaction? They urgently need to.

Leaving Blaesse wide open and trick Wolfsburg into using her as the main player for build up play would have been a clever move and should be a main target for their next Bundesliga opponents. They would need to send their two topmost players always out to stop build up from Wolfsburg mainly over the left and second over the center. But we doubt Bayern did that on purpose rather than – like mentioned – randomly because the coordination on their left side was not good.

Wolfsburgs big search to improve build up play from the own half was stopped already during last season. Thus we got consequently used to see them remain on their rather incomplete levels. Once again we saw nothing has improved there and it was rather poor. Luckyly they didnt need it this time. Because at least the movement from the attacking players improved somewhat mainly due to the addition of Harder. And so Wolfsburg could counter and play the ball up front quite rapidly without the need of proper build up play. They always got under some pressure when this failed though. Seems finally Wolfsburg have got lucky in their trial and error kind of search for players to improve the team. Clever movement will help also against deeper sitting teams. However not as effectively and the problems in building up will be more problematic then again. With the other options still not used or injured it might depend a lot on how good Harder and Hansen get through the rest of the season. The matches against Lyon however could have come at a far worse time than at the moment.
They are going to be interesting.

Player of the match: Pernille Harder

After some time we finally had a match again with a clear player of the match: Pernille Harder. It is always a nice confirmation to see your expectations coming true. Pernille Harder is a player who is much more versatile and smarter in her style of play compared to Ramona Bachmann. She brings improvements of the use of free spaces and especially adds some kind of an integrative element by connecting well with all the other players around her without needing much time to adapt. Very interesting to see how this is exactly something Wolfsburg was missing and never understanding to add. Now they have – after a lot of trial and error – finally found a player whos natural style is making up for the tactical deficits of the team.


PLAYER RATINGS:

VfL Wolfsburg:

Schult: 6.5
Biggest challenges came from back passes.

Maritz: 7
o.k all around

Peter: 6.5
Solid performance without problems

Fischer: 7.5
Anchor point of the defense like in the “old” days

Blaesse: 7
More contacts in the first half.

Gunnarsdottir: 6.5
Fighter with room for improvement in possession of the ball.

Wullaert: 6.5
No good luck and suffering from being pinned to the side line

Dickenmann: 7
Is more influential usually

Popp: 6
Unlucky match from her

Hansen: 7.5
Always dangerous but missed a goal.

Harder: 8.5
Lot of running at the right spaces


Bayern:

Korpela: 7
Free of faults this time. But no luck with the goals

Abbe: 7
Solid

Wenninger: 6.5
Also solid but some blibs.

Lewandowski: 6
-0.5 for the goal. Solid

Maier: 6.5
Still nobody to bring her back on track?

Baunach: 6.5
Very good with the ball. But with problems in defense

Behringer: 6.5
Couldnt get things sorted despite some efforts

Lohman: 7
Talented but understandably little bit disconnected

Rolfö: 6.5
Not yet well integrated in the team

Däbritz: 5.5
Still more fight necessary when disconnected from the game.

Miedema: 8
Always a threat despite the worse team around her


Every comment is very much appreciated !

 

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