Drama of Champions League places being settled on the last matchday of the Frauen-Bundesliga and Primera Division seasons enthrals fans, writes Martin Whiteley.
With the league titles already decided in Germany and Spain, the battle for third was the only show in town for fans who’re now captivated by dramatic European showdowns on the final day of the campaign.
The introduction of an extra spot Champions League spot this term meant there were still four sets of supporters of Frauen-Bundesliga and Primera Division clubs eagerly anticipating games that could make or break their seasons heading into the last round of fixtures.
In Germany, the fight was between Turbine Potsdam and Eintracht Frankfurt after Wolfsburg were crowned champions and Bayern Munich finished runners-up. When the two sides met last week, Eintracht won 2-0 to draw level on 43 points with their third-placed rivals and keep this pulsating race going down to the wire.
With a superior goal difference of nine, Turbine just had to match the result of Eintracht to secure European qualification, but faced the tougher fixture at giants Bayern while Niko Arnautis’ side welcomed ninth-placed Werder Bremen.
They were soon in trouble as Jovana Damnjanovic and Klara Buhl put the hosts in control with less than 15 minutes gone. Linda Dallmann made it three then Damnjanovic put the game out of reach for the visitors before half-time by wrapping up her double. Bayern added a late fifth through Lea Schuller to end a miserable day for Turbine.Embed from Getty Images
In contrast, Nicole Anyomi scored for Eintracht after just 10 minutes in front of 4,520 fans. With the pressure off, they went on to book their Champions League place in style with a dominant second-half performance, thanks to Laura Freigang’s double and a goal from Sjoeke Nusken.
Although they’re not even close to being within touching distance of the top two, there is one table they are out in front in by some margin. Eintracht proudly top the attendance list, having attracted over 13,000 fans this campaign.
In Spain, meanwhile, the fan anticipation reached another level as both the Europe-chasing teams resided in the same city. Atletico Madrid, looking to regain a Champions League spot, had possessed third place since the start of March, but they faced a mission improbable away trip to Invincible champions Barcelona.
After a poor start to the season, Real Madrid, who made their European debut this term, had clawed their way back into contention for another shot at the competition. They trailed their crosstown rivals by just two points ahead of facing 11th-paced Villarreal.
In search of their 30th straight league win, Barca made the perfect start. Irene Paredes scored after 11 minutes, and Aitana Bonmati doubled their advantage 12 minutes later. Although the Catalan giants captain Alexia Putellas had her penalty saved on the hour-mark, the visitors did see Merel van Dongen dismissed after she picked up a second yellow card.
Minutes later, Atletico were given hope of turning things around when captain Amanda Sampedro found the net in her last game to make it 2-1. The hosts then had Bonmati sent off in the 90th minute for denying a goalscoring opportunity but held on for the win.
In Madrid, Kosovare Asllani squeezed home a penalty for Real on the stroke of half-time to add to the woes for Atletico. Real were able to see out time to claim their much-coveted and lucrative place in Europe.
League seasons would often peter out in the past, with all the significant places wrapped up well before the conclusion. The playing of more meaningful games does not just keep the fans of the teams involved engaged — it also allows the league to be in focus for longer as well.
Follow Martin on Twitter @673Martin