Wolfsburg answer doubters by closing in on historic turnaround season
She-Wolves are within touching distance of a record-tying seventh Frauen-Bundesliga crown and ninth DFB-Pokal Frauen trophy after recovering from last term’s blip, writes Martin Whiteley.Embed from Getty Images
Even the slightest drop in form can see questions asked of a top side. When Wolfsburg lost the league last season some wondered whether it was just a blip or the end of an era for a side that had won four-in-a-row.
Although finishing 2020/21 as Frauen-Bundesliga runners-up, reaching the last eight of the Champions League and winning a cup are good going by most club’s standards, teams like the She-Wolves have considerably higher expectations than most sides.
At the weekend, last season’s bump in the road was in the rearview mirror as they won the top-of-the-table battle with Bayern Munich 6-0 to move four points clear of the current champions with just three games remaining. Svenja Huth opened the scoring at home with a long-range strike before Joelle Wedemeyer nipped in to head in a second. Tabea Wabmuth fired in another from outside the box to complete a dominant first-half performance.
Alexandra Popp netted No.4 with a diving header after the interval. Lena Oberdorf’s strike and another header from substitute Ewa Pajor at the death piled on the misery for Bayern, who were also dumped out of the Champions League by PSG last week amid a Covid outbreak in their ranks. It made it eight league wins on the spin for the She-Wolves and leaves them within touching distance of their seventh league title, which would see them equal the all-time record with FFC Frankfurt — now Eintracht Frankfurt.Embed from Getty Images
But the hosts had entered the potential title decider buoyed by a midweek victory that had secured them a place in the Champions League semi-finals. After drawing 1-1 away from home, the two-time champions beat Arsenal 2-0 at the Volkswagen Arena to set up a last-four clash with holders Barcelona.
Before that Euro clash, Germany’s top sides will have another crack at each other in the semi-final of the DFB-Pokal Frauen after the international break. This time Bayern get to host as they look for revenge on Wolfsburg for doing the league double over them by ending their cup dominance. Tommy Stroot’s side have claimed the last seven on the bounce and eight in total, leaving their rivals desperate to stop them lifting the one more they require to tie yet another record with Frankfurt.
But as well as Wolfsburg have performed, this campaign has not been without its challenges. Last season’s leading scorer Zsanett Jakabfi retired, and strikers Pajor and Popp have rarely figured due to injuries.Embed from Getty Images
However, their absences have allowed summer signings Wabmuth and Jill Roord to shine, with both players scoring nine league goals — and the former even netting the same number in Europe.
If their rivals were hoping there might be some let-up next season, no chance, as Wolfsburg have already announced two fabulous additions. Current Eintracht Frankfurt and Germany No.1 Merle Frohms returns to the club she left in 2018, while one of the brightest prospects, Jule Brand, joins from Hoffenheim.
As so often was the case before, Wolfsburg will be the ones posing the questions once again. It’ll be interesting to see what answers the rest of the teams can come up with in response.
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