Die Wolfe’s Jill Roord and Les Gones star Signe Bruun are just two summer signings helping to give their clubs the edge over title rivals, writes Martin Whiteley.
Since 2019 the November men’s international break has been designated as women’s football weekend by the FA. On the same weekend in Germany, the ‘random’ fixture computer has treated fans to a big showdown with Bayern Munich hosting Wolfsburg for the past three years.
And after missing out by a week last year, it looks like its French counterpart has blinked its curser twice to indicate that it has got the memo once more. This year it duly delivered a tantalising top-of-the-table clash as Lyon welcomed PSG on Sunday.
To maximise the focus on the women’s game it helps if the leading sides head-to-heads have significance. For that to happen the right playing personnel must be in place.
A few of Bayern Munich’s summer acquisitions were made with the future in mind, but one of their significant signings was Maximiliane Rall who came in from Hoffenheim.
The defender was a mainstay in the starting line-up of her previous club but that has changed this term. Only once so far has Rall been selected to play from the first whistle in her eight league appearances.
Coming off the bench has given coach Jens Scheuer more flexibility to play her further forward. This has resulted in Rall scoring five goals already this campaign, which has matched her league scoring exploits for Hoffenheim over the last two seasons.
Another player to benefit from a change of scenery is Wolfsburg’s Jill Roord. The former Arsenal midfielder has not only become a regular starter in Germany, but her goals-per-game average have increased as a result.
The attacking power Arsenal possessed meant Roord was restricted to midfield appearances that also required defensive responsibilities. Under coach Tommy Stroot the Netherlands midfielder has been able to advance further up-field — more like how she operates for her national team — netting four goals in eight starts.
Entering this round of Frauen-Bundesliga matches, Bayern led Wolfsburg by two points but both sides were coming off disappointing midweek Champions League results. Having grabbed a last-gasp winner last weekend against Eintracht Frankfurt this time around it was Wolfsburg who conceded late and had to settle for a 2-2 draw away to Juventus. That point leaves them second in Group A on five points, two points behind leaders Chelsea with three games to play.
Bayern also surrendered a late goal in France against Lyon to lose 2-1. With this defeat, they trail the seven-times ex-champions by five points as Les Gones kept their perfect Group D run going.
At the same stage of last season, Bayern Munich claimed a 4-1 home win over Wolfsburg and went on to win the title. This time a second-half goal from Kathrin Hendrich gave the visitors a 1-0 victory on Saturday, moving them top of the table on 19 points ahead of Hoffenheim on goal difference.
Over in France, it was a case of friends reunited as several players had swapped sides in the off-season. Unable to nail down a spot in the starting XI for PSG after returning from an ACL injury, striker Signe Bruun made the move to Lyon.
Again, the Denmark striker has often been used off the bench but has shown what a natural goalscorer she is by finding the net five times already this season. She is currently just two goals short of her league total from the last campaign.
Making the move in the opposite direction was Sakina Karchaoui. The France star has speed to burn and is your prototypical modern-day left-back with energy and athleticism in abundance. She also loves to defend which has helped PSG to keep a clean sheet in all their games until their contest with Lyon.
PSG had also matched Lyon with a win previously in Europe. The 4-0 home victory for the French champions against Real Madrid left them three points better off than their opponents and still top of Group B.
In their first meeting last campaign, PSG won 1-0 on home soil against Lyon and went on to capture their first title. On this occasion, it was all Lyon as they were victorious 6-1 thanks to substitute Ada Hegerberg grabbing a brace and PSG’s Ashley Lawrence being sent off for denying a goalscoring opportunity.
It moves Lyon three points clear of PSG and gives them their eighth straight top-flight victory this term.
There are challenges for any player joining a new club. Whether that is playing a slightly different formation or having to adapt to a new role. When you move to one of the teams that are expected to challenge for silverware there is the added pressure of helping to maintain glittering success that must be overcome too.
Follow Martin on Twitter @673martin