The Allianz Women's Bundesliga gets back under way following the winter break this weekend, and for the VfL Ladies that means a visit to second-placed Bayern (kick-off 15:00 CET). The She-Wolves would no doubt be happy for a repeat of the reverse fixture earlier this season, when a crushing 6-0 win at AOK Stadion provided the highlight of a successful opening half of the 2018/19 campaign.
"A win would be significant"
The Green-Whites are currently three points ahead of their closest pursuers, who have not lost since that defeat in Wolfsburg, collecting 26 of a possible 30 points in the process. And while VfL Ladies head coach Stephan Lerch is aware of the 'six-pointer' nature of the encounter, he refuses to believe that victory for his side would all but seal the title.
"A win could be very significant and we're certainly looking to start the second half of the season with a victory in Munich," said the 34-year-old, who pointed out that success in subsequent league fixtures cannot be taken for granted: "You can always drop points anywhere. That goes for us as much as it does for Bayern. We've got plenty of difficult games ahead of us."
Earps to deputise for Schult
Lerch was typically guarded about his line-up for the game, although one of the names on his teamsheet is already known: Mary Earps will make her full Bundesliga debut in goal in place of Almuth Schult, who is still recovering from the measles. The England international goalkeeper's first league outing was on Matchday 8, when she replaced Schult at half-time in a 2-1 win away to Duisburg.
"You can't compare the two situations," said Lerch. "Mary's had longer to prepare for the game now. We deliberately used our friendly matches to allow her to find her rhythm. She's always been spot-on and I'm sure she'll play well."