The new Frauen-Bundesliga season gets underway on Friday, with defending champions Bayern Munich taking on six-time winners Turbine Potsdam in the opening match, a prestigious occasion that will be graced by some of the stars of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™.
The high-profile encounter will raise the curtain on a campaign in which a clutch of foreign stars will be looking to impress in the German elite, as will the members of the country’s national senior and youth teams.
Ranking alongside Bayern and Turbine as the season’s main attractions are German Cup holders VfL Wolfsburg and last season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League winners 1. FFC Frankfurt, a list to which can be added Werder Bremen. Surprise newcomers to the league, Werder may lack Canada 2015 veterans in their ranks but can at least count on an experienced coach in Steffen Rau, who joined the north German club in July.
“After 13 years working as an instructor for the national FA, I was keen to work in club football and I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to coach a big side like Werder,” explained Rau in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “What makes this new adventure all the more exciting is the philosophy of my new club. It’s the same as the one I’ve been pursuing these last few years in training and nurturing talented young players.”
For me, Munich, Wolfsburg, Frankfurt and Potsdam all have a head start, and I’m also looking forward to seeing how Freiburg go this season.
A prominent member of the Frauen-Bundesliga North division between 2009 and 2014, Werder are looking forward to their first season in the big time, as is their 45-year-old coach: “Our promotion to the Bundesliga is just reward for all the hard work that’s been put in over the last seven or eight years. The directors have ensured that Werder have made steady progress.
"They’ve put together a competitive team, one that’s built around players who come from the city and the region. It’s a strategy that’s paying off,” he went on. “My players and I are getting our first taste of the elite, and we want to enjoy the experience, do the club justice and get the best results we can. It goes without saying that our objective is to stay up. We’ll be doing all we can to make that happen.”
It remains to be seen if 2015/16 can match up to last season, when a thrilling championship race was only decided on the very last day of the season. As far as Rau is concerned, however, holders Bayern will once again figure among the favourites. “There are going to be four, maybe five, teams in contention for the title,” he said. “I think we can expect to see them at the top of the table. For me, Munich, Wolfsburg, Frankfurt and Potsdam all have a head start, and I’m also looking forward to seeing how Freiburg go this season.”
Fresh from their European conquest, Frankfurt are now aiming to reacquaint themselves with league success and have dipped into the transfer market in a bid to fulfil that ambition. Formerly with Wolfsburg and a member of the Japan side that finished runners-up at Canada 2015, Yuki Ogimi has signed on the dotted line for the seven-time Bundesliga champions, with Sophie Schmidt, who has won 137 caps for Canada, joining her. One world-class player leaving the club, however, is Celia Sasic, the leading scorer at this year’s world finals, who has retired from the game.
“All you can do against these teams is just give it your best shot,” said Rau when asked about his side’s chances against the Bundesliga’s big guns. “We might be able to make life difficult for them from time to time or even spring the odd surprise, but we’ll mainly be trying to focus on the teams at our level, who’ll also be fighting to stay up.
“We’re raring to go. We can’t wait to get started, though we’ll just have to see how things work out. I’m really thrilled at the prospect of playing exciting matches against top-level opposition. I hope we can reach our objective.”