Additional spots in European women’s leagues could help new teams stay up
Martin Whiteley looks at why with a few extra places between the middle sides and the relegation zone, the ambitious clubs in Spain, France and Germany might be able to make the adjustment to top-flight life a little more easily.
Most of the major top-flight women’s leagues in Europe operate with 12 teams. Spain, on the other hand, consists of 16 sides, and this campaign, after the effect Covid-19 had at the end of last season, there will be 18.
The trap door would have opened for Valencia and Espanyol had relegation been implemented last season.
Valencia, in particular, have taken advantage of their second chance to currently sit in 11th place on 14 points after a 2-2 draw away to Real Sociedad.
A 2-0 home win from newly-promoted Eibar against fellow newcomers Santa Teresa also moved them onto 14 points and up to 10th spot.
Previous Primera División Femenina leaders UDG Tenerife have shown what can be achieved given the chance to establish themselves at the top table. Despite being held to a 1-1 draw at home against Sporting Huelva, the island side have 27 points and is still in the mix for a European place.
Still, in their infancy as a top-flight side, Real Madrid is also progressing nicely.
Despite a 1-0 home loss to the team just below them Atlético Madrid – 5-0 winners over Servette in midweek in the UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL) Round of 32 to advance 9-2 on aggregate – the side who finished 10th in their maiden season under the Tacón name, still find themselves occupying third place with 25 points.
Barcelona — victors 4-1 (8-2 aggregate) against PSV Eindhoven in the UWCL on Wednesday – is clearly the benchmark at present. A ninth straight league win after a 6-0 success at home to Sevilla moved the side from Catalonia to the summit.
With less chance of being relegated, it has shown what clubs can achieve with planning and investment.
The ability to get a foothold in the Frauen-Bundesliga has certainly proved problematic for its newly-promoted sides recently.
This season Werder Bremen have lost three of the last four league games and currently reside in ninth place with nine points. Meppen, one spot below Bremen with three fewer points to their name.
At the top, leaders Bayern Munich – having disposed of Ajax 3-0 (6-1 aggregate) in midweek UWCL action – made it a dozen consecutive league victories with an 8-0 success at SC Sand. Fellow European conquerors Wolfsburg followed-up their 2-0 (7-0 aggregate) success against Spartak Subotica with a 2-0 win away to SGS Essen, to stay five points behind Bayern heading into the winter break.
The same situation holds true in France too.
Newly-promoted Issy only have six points and Le Havre four with both occupying the bottom two places in the standings.
At the other end of the landscape, UWCL holders Lyon defeated Juventus 3-0 (6-2 aggregate) and PSG saw off Górnik Łęczna 6-1 (8-1 aggregate).
The elite clubs will always have their own agendas like winning the league or claiming a European spot. With a few extra places between the middle sides and the relegation zone, the ambitious clubs might be able to make the adjustment to top-flight life a little more easily.
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