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Fußball Bundesliga | VfL Wolfsburg vs. SC Freiburg
Image: Getty Images/M. Hitij

Wolfsburg: The Bayern Munich of women's football

Stefan Nestler
June 17, 2020

Wolfsburg have clinched their fourth consecutive German women's football title. Their dominance in the women's game in recent years has been comparable to that of Bayern Munich on the men's side.

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Wednesday's 2-0 victory over Freiburg was Wolfsburg's 19th in 20 games so far this season. It clinched their sixth German women's title, and fourth in a row. With just two games remaining, their closest rivals, Bayern Munich, who trail by eight points, can't catch them. The Wolves have been in a class of their own this season. With 88 goals in 20 matches they have by far the best offense, and having conceded just eight, they are also the best team defensively. Danish international striker Pernille Harder is the league's top goal scorer with 26.  

But this coronavirus-interrupted season is still far from over, and Wolfsburg still have the chance to duplicate their historic 2012-2013 campaign, when they won the treble: the Bundesliga, the German Cup and the Champions League. They go into the Cup final on July 4 as the clear favorites against SGS Essen. The northern Germans have also reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League, where their opponents are Glasgow City FC. 

Fußball Bundesliga | VfL Wolfsburg vs. SC Freiburg
Pernille Harder netted her 26th goal of the season against FreiburgImage: Getty Images/M. Hitij

 Money doesn't score goals – but it helps

Wolfsburg have dominated German women's football since 2013 – only Bayern Munich have mounted any serious challenge, winning the league in 2015 and 2016 and the German Cup in 2014. Since 2017, VfL have scooped up every domestic trophy available to them. In 2014, the club even managed to make it back-to-back Champions League titles. Their current dominance is certainly comparable to that of serial men's Bundesliga champions Bayern, who picked up another Bundesliga title of their own less than 24 hours earlier. 

Wolfsburg have only had a women's team since July 1, 2003 when the club took over the women's section of another club from the city, WSV Wendschott, who were then in the women's Bundesliga. This made the new side a works team of German carmaker Volkswagen – just like the men. And therein lies a large portion of the secret to their success. As the saying goes in Germany, money doesn't score goals, but it helps. While no official figures are available, according to the mass-circulation daily Bild, the women's team currently have an annual budget of nearly €10 million ($11.2 million). This is still well below the budget of the men's team, which is estimated to be €75 million, but far higher than those of most of their competitors in the women's Bundesliga. 

 Appealing to top players 

Fussball - FIFA Frauen-WM - Deutschland - Spanien
Germany midfielder Lena Oberdorf is set to join Wolfsburg at the end of the seasonImage: picture alliance / SvenSimon

The top women's players at Wolfsburg are said to earn a monthly salary of up to €10,000. That may seem a pittance compared with the, on average, 10-times higher salaries their male counterparts earn, but these are top wages in the women's game. This is one reason why Wolfsburg are able to attract some of the biggest stars in women's football – not only from Germany but abroad as well. Their current 25-woman squad includes 12 players from outside of Germany. They've also signed three more top stars for next season: Poland goalkeeper Katarzyna Kiedrzynek (from Paris St. Germain) and the Germany players Pauline Bremer (Manchester City) and Lena Oberdorf (SGS Essen). 

Fußball Allianz Frauen Bundesliga VfL Wolfsburg v SGS Essen
Coach Stephan Lerch and sporting director Ralf Kellermann represent continuity in the front officeImage: Getty Images/Bongarts/J. Sielski

 Continuity upstairs

The Wolves recipe for success also includes continuity in the front office. Ralf Kellermann, who took over as sporting director in 2017, knows the club inside out from his nine-year stint as coach – including the treble season of 2012-13. His former assistant and current head coach Stephan Lerch has been with the club since 2013.  

With all that they have going for them, it may only be a matter of time before Wolfsburg break FFC Frankfurt's mark of seven for the most German women's football titles.

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