Battles with closest rivals have swung league results in the past: but how are title tussles across the women’s European leagues shaping up so far?

In the past, the title races of the Primera División Femenina, Frauen Bundesliga, and Division 1 Féminine could have ended drastically differently, had one result changed when the top two sides of each league met. With this season shaping up to feature close-run races across the women’s leagues in Europe, it’s worth taking a look at each league’s recent histories and how they map onto this year’s title races so far, writes Martin Whiteley.

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After back-to-back German titles in 2013 & 2014, Wolfsburg came within a whisker of keeping that run going in 2015 when they came up one point short of Bayern Munich. Any changes to the brace of scoreless draws between the two in favour of Wolfsburg would have seen them holding the trophy aloft for a third straight time.

Heading into this season’s first meeting of the leading two sides, it was hosts Bayern who held a two-point advantage over Wolfsburg.

After an impressive 4-1 victory the home side were able to move onto 27 points, leaving Wolfsburg behind on 22. Time will tell whether these points will make all the difference come the end of the season.

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In Spain, Atlético Madrid won their first two championships — in amongst a run of three straight from 2017—  by a combined margin of four points. On both occasions runners-up, Barcelona had a better goal difference.

Two, 1-1 draws against Barca in the 2017-18 season allowed Atlético to secure top spot by just a single point. In the second contest, Barcelona managed to equalise, but could not find a winner that would have put them in pole position for the title.

Fast forward to this season, and Barca have begun with four straight wins. Two postponements due to their opponents having positive Covid-19 results in their camp meant they entered their midweek encounter with leaders Atlético third in the table.

After being held to a scoreless draw at home against Sporting Huelva previously, Atlético could only open up a two-point advantage over the champions during their inactivity.

Goalkeeper Cata Coll — in for Sandra Paños due to contact with a positive Covid case — made sure that Barcelona are still yet to concede a goal this term, with a brilliant penalty save against former Barca player Toni Duggan.

That save switched the momentum in favour of the hosts, who went on to dent the title hopes of Atlético with a 3-0 win.

Positive Covid-19 tests in the Eibar camp halted play again for Barcelona this weekend, but Atlético were able to bounce back with a 4-1 home win against Real Betis. 

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Lyon often have the Division 1 Féminine championship wrapped up early, but that changed with last season’s premature ending. A reversal of the champions’ 1-0 win against PSG would have given their closest rival their first title when play was halted.   

The same two sides are battling it out again this season, and a 5-1 success at home to Soyaux gained leaders Lyon their eighth-straight league win.

An astounding 14-0 success away to Issy — Nadia Nadim with a double hat-trick — left PSG two points behind Lyon, with the two scheduled to meet in Paris on Friday.

For all these teams, it is of course vital to register wins that secure the points to be in with a chance of the title. But the ability not to lose to their closest rival could be the trait that eventually makes the key difference and can get a team over the line.

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