Until recently, the Bayern Munich women’s team did not play a major role in Germany, much less in Europe.
Two consecutive Women’s Bundesliga titles greatly enhanced their domestic reputation. The leadership of the famous club started to take notice of the success of its female department, by celebrating these two titles jointly with the also-victorious men’s team in front of tens of thousands of fans.
But internationally, last season the young team failed in the Champions League at the first hurdle.
That was a painful slipup that everyone associated with the Bayern women wanted to put right this season. After easily brushing aside Scotland’s Hibernian and Russia’s Rossiyanka MO in the early rounds, the Bavarians reached the quarterfinals(for the first time in their history) against French giants Paris Saint-Germain.
The first leg of the round of eight was played on Thursday evening, at the historic Grünwalder Stadion in Munich.
The Bayern women came into the match on the back of a pair of 2-0 defeats to rival VfL Wolfsburg (one each in Bundesliga and German Cup).
More importantly, they were missing several key players due to injury. The absences of Nora Holstad and Stefanie van der Gragt in defense, as well as Simone Laudehr and Melanie Leupolz in midfield were especially problematic.
A vast marketing effort by everyone at the club from President Uli Hoeneß to players of the men’s team such as Philipp Lahm, David Alaba and Xabi Alonso made possible that the old stadium was well filled with 7.300 fans.
Nevertheless, the many absences in the Bavarian side clearly showed and PSG dominated the game completely with 17-5 total shots and 9-1 shots on target, according to UEFA’s website.
Only a combination of good defensive organization, some necessary luck and the amazing reflexes of the home team’s keeper Tinja-Riikka Korpela kept the skilled visitors off the score sheet.
Beyond that, Bayern’s only shot on goal went in. Their star striker Vivianne Miedema, who had been largely invisible for most of the game, took her one chance calmly and the game finished incredibly, 1-0 to Bayern.
Nights like these make soccer the world’s greatest sport, because only in the Beautiful Game can a team be totally inferior to their opponents and still win the game.
However, next Wednesday’s second leg at the Parc des Princes in Paris is sure to be an even more difficult game, meaning that the German champions are only half way into the semifinals at the most.