The Women’s Bundesliga opens league play on September 7 with 2013 UEFA Women’s Champions League winners VfL Wolfsburg hosting FC Bayern Munich. The match will be broadcast live in high-definition by Eurosport. In August, it was announced that Eurosport had secured a long-term deal to air Bundesliga games through the 2016 season.
The team is coming off a stellar season, in which they won everything: league, cup and Champions League title. No doubt, Wolfsburg is the team to beat this season. Goalkeeper Alisa Vetterlein is the only regular starter who left the club as reaction to VfL signing German National Team backup keeper Almuth Schult. The most prominent newcomer is Linköping’s centerback Nilla Fischer. Wolfsburg remains the big favorite, but is in the role of the hunted team for the first time. A big question will be how the players stay hungry for success as most new players do not seem to be on the level to compensate potential injuries or barren runs of seeded players.
Leaving: Navina Omilade-Keller (career end), Rebecca Smith (unknown), Eve Chandaratne, Annabel Jäger (both BV Cloppenburg), Alisa Vetterlein (TSG Hoffenheim)
1.FFC Turbine Potsdam
Runners-up in league and cup is bitter but still a good success for Potsdam given that the team certainly does not belong in the top two financially and regarding the quality of the roster. The upcoming season will be even more difficult as the losses are not compensated with equal, new quality regarding the newcomers. Losing Yuki Ogimi, Alyssa Naeher and Patricia Hanebeck is hard and long-term injured Julia Simic is the only new one who could step in. Sure, coaching veteran Bernd Schröder will pull up some unknown youngsters as always, but this year, a Champions League qualification seems tougher than before.
New: Julia Simic (Bayern Munich), Lia Wälti (Young Boys Bern), Ingrid Wells (WNY Flash)
The copy and paste function of the report from the previous years might be possible here after, once again, a disappointing season for the former powerhouse. Yet, the outlook this time looks more promising. Coaching changes are not new in Frankfurt but by opting on Colin Bell, they opted on a proven coach who will not allow external influences. Several old veterans left who did not perform for club like they do, for example, the national team. The leaving players almost form a solid All-Star team, while the top star among the new players followed her coach from Bad Neuenahr: Celia Sasic, better known as Celia Okoyino da Mbabi (recently married). The new face will have a positive impact on the club and although Frankfurt may have a weaker nominal roster, it is a hotter contender for the title than in the previous years.
New: Alina Garciamendez (Stanford), Asuna Tanaka (INAC Kobe Lionessa), Celia Sasic (SC Bad Neuenahr), Anke Preuss (TSG Hoffenheim), Peggy Kuznik (SC Bad Neuenahr)
Bayern Munich served as a connection between the top three and the rest of the table. The team is very talented but lacks creative play to be even closer to the top. Physically, the team maybe already is the best in the league and the big clubs fear playing against them, but the missing playing structure led to the club losing many points against smaller defensive-minded teams. Maybe the move from their ridiculous venue outside of Munich to the renovated Stadium Grunwalder Strasse will give the team the boost it needs to climb closer to the top of the table. In the second half of last season, the team looked much better, improving by seven points, which wass the biggest improvement of all clubs. The leaving players did not play a role last season, while Leonie Maier should be a good addition.
Leaving: Julia Simic (Turbine Potsdam), Isabell Bachor (Lilleström SK)
An interesting season awaits SC Freiburg. During the first half of last season, SCF landed in a surprising fourth spot but, except for last place Gütersloh, no team declined more than Freiburg after the winter break. Parts of the team and the management did not get along with coach Milorad Pilipovic, whose sporting level was undoubted and was a big reason for Freiburg’s rise. Former coach Dietmar Sehrig is now back in charge and finds a roster that doesn’t see major changes.
New: Myriam Krüger (SC Sand), Laura Störzel (SC Bad Neuenahr), Sandra Starke (Turbine Potsdam II)
Essen kind of underwent a change into a team without identity. What sounds negative is, however, a positive development. Essen has little fear of relegation but, for further development, the money is missing. The star of the team was Melanie Hoffmann but she was sorted out by Coach Markus Högner, who with this move, underlined that the real star of his team is his playing system. The team is managed solidly and shouldn’t be relegated this year, although the team might make a step back. Some quality players left while there are no top-level additions.
Leaving: Melanie Hoffmann, Stefanie Löhr (both retired), Katarina Tarr (baby break), Jil Strüngmann (study break), Sharon Beck (Bayer Leverkusen), Carole da Silva Costa (FCR Duisburg), Emma Mitchell (Arsenal LFC), Kyra Malinowski, Vivien Gaj (both unknown)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen
A club that pursues its own special philosophy is Bayer Leverkusen. Even though high-end training facilities due to the men’s pro team are available, the club restricts itself to developing young German talents. Nearly all new additions are playing for some German youth national team, with Rebecca Knaak being the only new addition older 20 years of age. It can be repeated what was said about them in the past: Leverkusen is a young team with a high-playing quality, they can cause trouble for many opponents, but they clearly lack experience to reach for higher aims. Under normal circumstances, Bayer will end up midtable.
New: Rebecca Knaak (SC Bad Neuenahr), Venus El Kassem (Turbine Potsdam II), Theresa Panfil (1.FFC Frankfurt), Laura Widak (SV Salia Sechtem), Sharon Beck (SGS Essen), Nina Claassen (FSV Gütersloh)
The insolvency was avoided, so season one after the big turmoil will start. Cheap foreign players are the way to go for Duisburg as they cannot afford better Germans after dropping to the number three role in the region behind Essen and Leverkusen. One surprise transfer was Danish National Team keeper Stina Lykke Petersen, whose motivation to leave European top club Brondby IF to come to a struggling German club remains unclear. Coach Sven Kahlert did a good job last season and will continue building the team, but will have to do it without striker Mandy Islacker, who finished as the third best striker last year. With strong promoted teams coming up, Duisburg’s core aim has to be to avoid relegation.
New: Lucie Vonkova (Sparta Prague), Stina Lykke Petersen (Brondby IF), Carole da Costa Silva (Portugal), Laura Luis (Maritimo), Sofia Nati (SC Bad Neuenahr)
The university team from Jena avoided relegation relatively early in the previous season. This will not happen this year, as the task for young coach Daniel Kraus is much harder. On the positive side, the team is experienced in the relegation battle; on the downside, the new competition coming from 2. Bundesliga is much stronger than in the past. The roster has not changed too much – key players leaving nor are top players coming.
Leaving: Katja Schroffenegger (Bayern Munich), Karoline Heinze (University of Central Florida), Safi Nyembo (FFV Leipzig), Nadine Kraus (unknown)
Sindelfingen was the bottom team for a long time last season and passed Gütersloh to finish second-to-last when it was already sure that both teams would be relegated. This effort was rewarded – Bad Neuenahr withdrew their team from Bundesliga, Sindelfingen got their berth as best relegated team. However, the outlook for the team of the Mercedes Benz city is less than good. There are few good players left, the team is even worse than last year and the odds of staying in the league are close to zero.
New: Julia Becker (ASV Hagsfeld), Anja Selensky (SC Bad Neuenahr), Amelie Schröder (SG Oppenweiler-Strümpfeldbach)
Leaving: Fabienne and Tamar Dongus (both TSG Hoffenheim), Susanna Höller, Jasmin Eder (both FSK Spratzern), Alexandra Szarvas (SC Kriens), Elisabeth Tieber (SK Sturm Graz), Natalia Mann (SGS Essen), Merza Julevic, Larissa Laich (both unknown), Lea Rädle (The Citadel), Annika Schmidt (North Carolina State), Jana Spengler (University of South Florida)
An interesting team is coming up from 2. Bundesliga North. BV Cloppenburg’s stay in the second highest league lasted three years. In year one they struggled to stay in the league, in year two they invested and got closer to the top, in year three they won the league and find themselves now in the upper class. BVC is backed by a meat producing company that has spent some money to help build a good roster that should enable the club to stay safely away from relegation. Mandy Islacker, third best striker in the Bundesliga last season, is the most prominent new addition for the roster.
New: Annabel Jäger, Eve Chandraratne (both VfL Wolfsburg), Mandy Islacker (FCR Duisburg), Jennifer Oehrli (FC Basel), Nina Brüggemann (Arizona State University), Kea Eckermann (Werder Bremen), Aylin Yaren (SC Bad Neuenahr), Vanessa Bernauer (UD Levante), Elizabeth Stout (Yzeure Allier), Sofia Jakobsson (Chelsea Ladies)
Another interesting new team in the league is 2. Bundesliga South champion TSG Hoffenheim. After Wolfsburg, Munich, Freiburg and Leverkusen, Hoffenheim is the fifth affiliate of a men’s Bundesliga club in women’s Bundesliga. With some rare exceptions, TSG also sees itself as a club to develop domestic talent. Their roster is not as good as Cloppenburg’s but still more than competitive for a newly promoted team. The most prominent new addition is Alisa Vetterlein, the starting keeper of triple winner Wolfsburg. Among the leaving players is Birgit Prinz who occasionally helped the club out after ending her pro career.