Who are the favorites?
As the defending Bundesliga champions, Bayern Munich are favorites to win it all again in 2023-24. Indeed, when you look at the signings the already star-studded Bavarians made over the summer, it seems hard to see anyone else having a look-in.
The headline acts are the 2018 and 2020 UEFA World Player of the Year, Pernille Harder (Chelsea, Denmark) and Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea, Sweden). Bayern have further strengthened their side with goalkeepers Anna Wellmann (Turbine Potsdam), Erin Nayler (Norrköping, New Zealand), midfielder Sam Kerr (Rangers, Scotland) and defender Katharina Naschenweng (Hoffenheim, Austria).
Runners-up, Wolfsburg, had won five of the previous six titles and promise to be contenders again. The Wolves, who won their ninth-consecutive German Cup last season, are led by national team captain and German Women's Player of the Year for 2023, Alexandra Popp. While they also dipped into the summer transfer market, with national team midfielder Chantal Hagel (Hoffenheim) being their biggest signing, they didn't come close to making the splash their Bavarian rivals did. Last season's Champions League finalists are banking on a squad that has essentially been left intact for 2023-24.
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Still dark horses but in the mix are Eintracht Frankfurt, who have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years, since 1. FFC Frankfurt, strictly a women's club and long one of the league's dominant sides, joined the men's Bundesliga club in 2020. Having finished third in the league last term, Eintracht recently raised eyebrows beyond Germany, beating Juventus in a penalty shootout in the Champions League qualifying playoffs. This leaves them just one step away from the UCL group stage.
Who is new, who has departed?
New to the Women's Bundesliga are RB Leipzig, who will be making their debut seven seasons after their men's team took the German men's topflight by storm in 2016. Though always controversial, RB Leipzig's men have never looked back, regularly qualifying for the Champions League and winning the last two German Cups. Whether Leipzig's women can do the same remains to be seen, but, like the men's team, they have no shortage of funds. This is far from the same team that dominated the second division last season, with eight new players having been brought in. A key signing is forward Sandra Starke who has 172 Bundesliga appearances to her name, with Freiburg and powerhouses Wolfsburg.
Also new are Nuremberg, who won promotion to the topflight for the first time since 1999. Their approach is very much in contrast to Red Bull, with few players, including the new signings, having had much Bundesliga experience. However, they are expected to be competitive in their first season back in the Bundesliga and will be playing out of the men's venue, the 50,000-capacity Max-Morlock-Stadion. Gone from the Bundesliga for the next 12 months (at least) are SV Meppen and Turbine Potsdam, whose six championships are second only to the seven won by 1. FFC Frankfurt (now Eintracht Frankfurt) and Wolfsburg.
One thing that is different is the name of the Women's Bundesliga — due to a change in sponsorship. No longer is the league known as the "FLYERALARM Frauen-Bundesliga," now its moniker is the perhaps more internationally prestigious "Google Pixel Frauen-Bundesliga." It's a change that DFB (German FA) Managing Director Holger Blask hopes will "further strengthen the visibility and attractiveness of the Women's Bundesliga."
What may be more controversial among fans, particularly the traditionalists among them, is the fact that Monday night games are being introduced for 2023-24. One game per matchday is to kick off between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Mondays. We're only two seasons on from the abolition of Monday games from the men's Bundesliga — following repeated protests by organized fans. How supporters of the women's game will take to the change is an open question. Monday games could also pose a considerable inconvenience for many players, who, unlike their male counterparts, still need to hold down a day job to make ends meet.
When does it start?
The new season opens with Bayern Munich away to Freiburg on Friday — with the rest of the matches spread over Saturday and Sunday. The first Monday match in the Bundesliga sees Bayern host Cologne on Matchday 2. The mode of play remains the same from last season, with 12 teams playing 22 matches.
Author Chuck Penfold
David Vorholt contributed to this report.
Edited by: Matt Pearson
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