Wolfsburg’s Fortunes Could Change in the Second Half of the Season

Judging by the league standings after the Hinrunde, it’s fair to say VfL Wolfsburg are currently caught up in a battle to beat the drop as they sit just three points above the relegation zone.

The club has undergone massive changes with Julian Draxler securing a move to PSG and Dieter Hecking being relieved of his duties as Wolfsburg attempt to climb into the top-half of the Bundesliga table.  The club did win its last two matches before winter break, creating some momentum for the season’s second half.

New boss Valerien Ismael has wasted no time in bolstering his squad for the mammoth task that lies ahead. Having already signed Riechedly Bazoer, Yunus Malli, Paul-Geroges Ntep and Victor Osimehn in the January transfer window, Die Wolfe look set to take their troubles head on, and it will be interesting to see what betting sites such as bet-uk.com think of VfL’s chances in the second half of the campaign.

Ever since Dieter Hecking guided the team to a 2nd-place finish two seasons ago, Wolfsburg have undergone a massive decline which has resulted in a nosedive down the table, due in large part to the exit of Kevin De Bruyne, the brilliant midfielder who VfL have been unable to replace.

Julian Draxler was unable to fill the massive void left behind by De Bruyne in the subsequent campaignbs, thus leading the hierarchy to sanction a £10.7m move for Turkish forward Yunus Malli of Mainz as Wolfsburg cashed in on Draxler at the start of the winter window.

Relegation Fears Loom Around the Volkswagen Arena

Reverberations at the Volkswagen Arena have been few and far between this season with Wolfsburg currently caught in a mid-season relegation fight. The last time Wolfsburg were in a quandary of this ilk was in the 2009/10 season, only a year after their most recent title-winning campaign, as they flirted with the bottom-half of the table after the winter break.

This season, though, is apparently worse seeing as Valerien Ismael’s side are deeply rooted in the lower echelons of the German top-flight.

In the 2009/10 campaign, the team were in a dismal sequence due to the waning performances of Grafite, who garnered a great reputation amongst Wolfsburg fans for his involvement in Die Wolfe’s 2009 Bundesliga success.

Then boss, Armin Veh was sacked after just eight months in charge of Wolfsburg as a result of the team’s poor Bundesliga form.  Wolfsburg’s saving grace proved to be the tactical acumen of Veh’s replacement, Lorenz-Gunther Kostner and Edin Dzeko’s goalscoring prowess as the Bosnian striker notched 22 league goals which saw Die Wolfe secure an 8th place finish.

History appears to be repeating itself – Dieter Hecking’s sack and Valerien Ismael’s appointment is a testament to that fact, but it remains to be seen if the latter can lead Wolfsburg to a respectable league finish.

Bazoer and Malli will Play Key Roles

Riechedly Bazoer and Yunus Malli were signed to bring verve and steel to Wolfsburg – the duo fits the bill regarding Ismael’s tactical advocacy.

Bazoer was Europe’s most sought after youngster, until Wolfsburg managed to snap him up for 12 million Euros.

The 20 year-old midfielder was the blue-eyed boy at Ajax. Bazoer has a unique skillset; He’s got sublime technique, he’s a great passer, and he’s also capable of doing the dirty work on the pitch – much like Dutch legend Frank Rijkaard.

Bazoer flourished in a three-man midfield system back in Ajax, but he may need some time to get accustomed to featuring in Wolfsburg’s midfield double-act.

The Netherlands international, though, is a fast learner and will meet the Bundesliga’s imperious demands. His idiosyncrasies in the middle of the park will see him fit in quite nicely and potentially provide the right balance of calmness and zest to Wolfsburg’s midfield.

Wolfsburg’s other addition, Yunus Malli who was signed from Mainz after six years at the Opel Arena, will be hoping to make an instant impact at the club.

Malli is a different type of player, but like Bazoer, he was brought in to ensure Wolfsburg have a good second-half of the season.

Malli has been one of the Bundesliga’s best attacking midfielders in the past few years. He’s set to assume the mantle of Wolfsburg’s main creative force, a role that hasn’t been played well since De Bruyne’s departure to the Premier League.

With six goals and six assists to his name after 16 Bundesliga games, Wolfsburg fans will be relishing the prospect of seeing Malli feature in the side.

Despite being predominantly an attacking midfielder, Malli can be deployed on either flank, but Ismael is expected to utilise his talents in the coveted number 10 role.

His style of play engenders the brand of football that should be on display at the Volkswagen Arena, as he’s technically proficient and has loads of tricks up his sleeve.

Malli also knows how to pick a pass, as his 70% passing accuracy implies; thus, Mario Gomez will benefit a great deal with the Turkey international playing right behind him.

Looking Ahead

With two important Bundesliga fixtures against Hamburger SV and FC Augsburg just around the corner, Ismael will have to make a spirited attempt to integrate both Bazoer and Malli into the team quickly. Ntep will also be brought into the fray in a bid to bolster the attack.

Those two games could potentially see Wolfsburg climb up the table, whilst a loss in both fixtures will immensely hurt Die Wolfe’s resolve.

If Wolfsburg’s recent Bundesliga wins and new signings are anything to go by, then it’s fair to say, they’re on their way to a decent top-half finish.



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Phillip is an European football expert with a keen analytical eye for issues surrounding football teams around Europe. He's a lover of the beautiful game and an avid follower of Bayern Munich. You can find him on Twitter: @de_cooldude

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