Several German female players have moved abroad in recent years, and while a large part of national team coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s squad still hails from teams such as Wolfsburg, Bayern Munich, Hoffenheim and Frankfurt, six games in England, France and Spanish.
Germany captain Alexandra Popp said this international feeling only made the national team better.
“We have benefited a lot from it. We now have players in England and (Dzsenifer) Marozsan and Sara (Däbritz) in the French League,” Popp told DW. “They carry a very different style of play.”
Däbritz, who left Bayern Munich for French club Paris Saint-Germain two years ago, told DW that playing in Europe’s top leagues outside Germany had helped him improve his game.
The philosophy of football differs from country to country. I think in France they played a great ball possession game. There’s also a lot more focus on speed, he said. “It’s very dynamic because all the players are fast. It challenges and develops me as a player.”
Däbritz is not the only German player in the French league, and Paris is not the only club with a reputation for honing even the best players. Playmaker Marozsan plays for Lyon, arguably the most successful women’s team in Europe won the Champions League seven times including the last five in a row. Their club philosophy has even won praise from the German coach.
“When a physically strong player goes to Lyon and gets training that is more technically oriented then he can only profit from that,” said Voss-Tecklenburg. “The same is true if a player who is technically very strong is now being challenged with the pace of play.”
Different leagues, different DNA
The idea that every league and club has its style and DNA is not new. Every country has its own football culture although it is not always rigid. As Däbritz notes, France is more or less concerned with ball possession, and Germany is renowned for its team’s tactical prowess. The English Women’s Super League is often described as more physical, unlike the men’s Premier League.
One of the players who recently discovered this is Melanie Leupolz. The 26-year-old midfielder is one of three German internationals to play in the Women’s Super League. After winning two Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich, he moved to Chelsea last year.
“The game is more open here, meaning the weaker team can score goals more easily. It is much faster, but here it is less tactical than in Germany,” he told DW. “But here at Chelsea, we don’t just play the typical English style of football. We have a lot of technically talented players.”
Leupolz also had some unflattering thoughts about the Bundesliga, saying he found it The Women’s Super League is more attractive and balanced. He may have a point. However, Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich have dominated the Bundesliga for the last eight years while the Women’s Super League has had four different champions in the same period.
The growth of the women’s game in Europe has given German players the opportunity to play abroad. While the experience they have gained has only benefited the national team, there are growing concerns that German women’s football will be left behind.
“I hope developments in other countries will also determine women’s football in Germany,” said Popp. “We also need to take the next step, or maybe it will be even more difficult in the coming years. But we are working on that and continue to develop the game here.”
Concerns about lowering the scale are unfounded. More money is being invested in the English league, allowing clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City to attract some of the biggest female stars in the world. Chelsea, for example, signed Danish international Pernille Harder from Wolfsburg for a reported € 300,000 ($ 357,000), a record fee in the women’s game. It was also Chelsea who ended Wolfsburg’s Champions League dream this season by beating them 5-1 in the quarter-finals, one of their heaviest aggregate defeats since 2015.
But at this point, Germany coach Voss-Tecklenburg still sees Europe’s top leagues largely on par with each other, meaning that where a player makes his trade doesn’t count in his selection process – at least for now.
“I think it’s great to have all these different influences,” he said. “But … one player today is not worth more than another just because he is playing in League X or League Y.”
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