The action has resumed in several of the world’s top leagues, with a number of leading teams recording important victories as they jostle for domestic supremacy. Olympique Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain were both clinical in France; Ajax and Standard Liege swapped places in Belgium and the Netherlands, while in Germany Bayer Leverkusen took the honours at the DFB indoor tournament.
*Germany: Leverkusen triumph indoors *Bundesliga outfit Bayer Leverkusen started 2015 on a winning note by taking the title at the DFB indoor tournament. With Germany women’s national team coach Silvia Neid watching from the stands, the Rhineland side beat double winners VfL Wolfsburg in the final after Turid Knaak scored the winner two minutes from time with a penalty. Wolfsburg could have equalised with their next attack after likewise being awarded a spot-kick, but Alexandra Popp put her effort wide.
Leverkusen reached the title-decider after beating SC Freiburg 2-0 in the quarter-finals and defeating 1. FFC Frankfurt 3-2 in the last four. In the group stage they suffered a 3-1 opening defeat to Wolfsburg, but made amends with subsequent triumphs over SC Sand (4-3) and SGS Essen (2-1). Wolfsburg coach Ralf Kellermann, who was crowned FIFA Coach of the Year for Women’s Football on 12 January in Zurich, saw his charges overcome Bayern Munich 4-1 and Essen 1-0 in the knockout rounds, following a group stage in which they drew 2-2 with Essen and lost 6-1 to Sand after their opening win over Leverkusen. Defending champions Turbine Potsdam failed to make it past the group stage.
*France: New year, old rivalry *Olympique Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain continued their long-standing rivalry into 2015 by maintaining their winning form. Coach Gerard Precheur’s Lyon side scored 23 goals in their first two games of the year after brushing FF Issy aside 9-0, before leaving ASPTT Albi no chance a week later in a 14-0 rout.
PSG were not quite as free-scoring, but coach Farid Benstiti’s charges nevertheless eased to a 3-0 win over Juvisy on Matchday 15, and followed that up with a 5-0 thrashing of Issy. The results mean that just three points separate the top two ahead of their meeting on 21 February.
*Top three: Lyon (64 points), Paris Saint-Germain (61), FCF Juvisy (48)
Belgium/Netherlands: Standard Liege hit the front *After ending 2014 with a 5-1 win over PSV / Eindhoven, Standard Liege chalked up a 2-0 victory over Heerenveen at the start of 2015 to go top of the BeNe Liga, ousting previous leaders AFC Ajax, who have played a game more. The Amsterdam-based club also began the new year by picking up three points, defeating Gent 2-0 to stay within touching distance at the summit. Defending champions FC Twente beat Leuven 2-0 to remain in third place.
*Top three: Standard Liege (34 points), AFC Ajax (33), FC Twente (29)*
Spain: Barcelona cement top spot
While Barcelona’s men’s team are currently second to Real Madrid in the league table, the women’s side are the undisputed leaders in the Primera Division. A narrow 1-0 victory over Collerense on Matchday 16 was enough for coach Xavi Llorens Rodriguez’s reigning champions to strengthen their position at the top of the standings. Atletico Madrid continue to be their closest challengers after battling to a 3-2 win over Rayo Vallecano, while Valencia CFF stay third after defeating Espanyol 3-1.
Top three: FC Barcelona (45 points), Atletico Madrid (39), Valencia CFF (34)