November 19, 2017

2015-16 Season Preview: VfL Wolfsburg

Full Club Name: VfL Wolfsburg
Nickname: Die Wölfe
Founded: 12 September 1945
Ground: Volkswagen Arena
Colors: Green and White
Rivals: Hannover 96 and Eintracht Braunschweig

2014-15 Finishes

Bundesliga: Runners Up
DFB Pokal: Champions
Europa League: Quarterfinalists
Top Goal Scorer: Bas Dost (20 goals in all competitions, 16 in Bundesliga)

“60-second dossier”


Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals: 18
Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 2
Number of Matches drawn: 9
Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 3
Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals: 2
Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in loss: 0
Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in draw: 3
Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn a draw: 6
Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn victory: 2

2014-15 Season Summary

Finishing as strongly as they did last season was a surprise not only to outsiders but also to the fans of Wolfsburg. The obvious aim at the start of the season was to snatch a Champions League spot, which they agonizingly missed by just one point the previous season. Comfortably finishing second in addition to bringing home the club’s first-ever DFB Pokal trophy was the icing on the cake of an astounding season.

Beyond those big achievements, making it to the quarterfinal of Europa League was also something to be proud of.

Wolfsburg were a very exciting team to watch last season. Their quick counterattacks, the transition between attack and midfield, the shrewd use of the width of the pitch with their fullbacks, and the staggering performance of the ‘assist-master’ Kevin De Bruyne all grabbed the attention of many clubs across the continent. All of these factors were indicative of the rise of a new German giant, perhaps one who could put a halt on Bayern Munich’s domestic dominance.

Dieter Hecking’s side had strength up front, with Bas Dost leading the line of attack and an exciting trio of attacking midfielders composed of Kevin de Bruyne, Daniel Caliguri, and Ivan Perisic behind him. In addition to that. Andre Schürrle joined this pack after the winter break. Despite not living up to his own high standards, his acquisition is a suggestion of the club’s big plans for the future.

Dost finished the season only three goals shy of top scorer Alexander Meier. He heated up the goal-scoring engine after the winter pause, grabbing goals left, right. and center for the Wolves.

KDB was a huge catalyst for Wolfsburg’s run, but will he return?

The architect was the baby-faced, red-haired De Bruyne, who went on to break the Bundesliga’s record of assists in a season.

The team was a strong unit who made sure that they put their possession to good use by putting the ball into the opposition’s danger area, but their weakness is present at the back line. They managed to keep just eight clean sheets in 34 Bundesliga games, which, if you think about it, is not so great for such a high finisher.

Strategy

The team plays in a strict 4-2-3-1 formation, with fullbacks Ricardo Rodriguez and Vierinhia being allowed to join the attack with their pace and skill on the ball, while the two midfielders in front of the back four covered for them.

This may not be the case in the new season.

The arrival of striker Max Kruse from ️Borussia Mönchengladbach might tempt Hecking into thinking about a new strategy, as this opens the chance for playing him and Dost with a 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1 formation.

Club Reputation

Previously negative views on Wolfsburg seem to be changing as the club has cemented itself as a regular Bundesliga side for a long time now and is also attracting several admirers with exciting and neat football. They may not be the ‘darling’ club of the Bundesliga. but they are not the ‘hated ones’ either.

Current Reality

After a period of highs and lows following their lone Bundesliga title, Wolfsburg are on their way back to the top. With a cup victory and a Champions League place, they are now considered one of the big teams in Germany, and the expectations are getting higher by the season.

2014-15 Trivia

Amidst all the success, the club had a very sad moment last season. It was on 10th of January that 20-year-old Belgian midfielder Junior Malanda died in a car accident. The news took everyone by shock.

The club will put his kit number (19) on their new jersey for next season as a tribute to the youngster who was gone too soon.

Money Matters

Wolfsburg have spent €14.7 million in the summer transfer market.

Peruvian midfielder Carlos Ascues arrived from Melgar Arequipa for a fee of €1.5 million.

Carlos Ascues is happy to be in a Wolf

 

Swiss midfielder/left back (and Ricardo Rodriguez’s brother) Francisco Rodriguez arrived from Zurich for a fee of €1.2 million.

Forward Max Kruse from Borussia Monchengladbach comes for a fee of €12 million. (Source betinf.com)

The Boss

Dieter Hecking, who is now a well-respected manger in the country, will be looking forward to the new challenges ahead of him. It will be his first time to coach a team in the Champions League, and from the promise his team have shown in the Europa League it will be very intriguing to see how he will approach the biggest competition in Europe.

He will be keen to address the gaps in the team, especially in defense. With Naldo’s aging, despite having a great season, and the inexperience of the other center backs, Tim Klose and Robin Knoche, he might be in the market for a new defender that can instill confidence and experience in the team.

Q & A with a club fan:

Answers provided by Mimi Silbensalat, who can be found on Twitter @silbensalat . . .

Who should we look out for in the coming season?

Well…KDB obviously. I hope we can keep him. I am also looking forward to seeing Max Kruse playing for the Wolves and Ricardo (Rodriguez)’s brother Francisco.

Who is the terrace favorite?

Well, mine is Vieirinha (and I am sure most supporters will agree), followed by Benaglio.
Where do you think Wolfsburg will finish the season?
Top four for sure . . . if we are able to keep our most valuable players! Munich might be facing hard times this season. We do have potential to finish as champions.
Opposition player you secretly admire?
We just signed one of them in Kruse, but also (Max) Meyer (Schalke 04) and (Abdul Rahman) Baba (FC Augsburg).
Opposition Player you despise?
K.P. Boateng

Verdict

Wolfsburg will face tough tests against the likes of Bayern Munich, ️Borussia Mönchengladbach, etc. They are most likely aiming to finish first and foremost in a Champions League spot and probably in the same position they finished last season. But they have the strength to challenge for the title and might push the Bavarians to the top. But at the end of the day, Pep Guardiola’s side might prove a little bit too strong and determined to give away the title.

 

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Brook lives in Ethiopia, and started following the Bundesliga from a very young age. His favourite players then were Thomas Rosicky - the reason he became a Dortmund fan! - and Marcelinho of Hertha Berlin. He likes to watch, read, write and talk about football with special interest in discussing emerging young talents. Follow @brookge