Fresh off beating Bayern Munich 4-1 at home, VfL Wolfsburg now sit eight points behind the reigning Bundesliga champions and will be become even a bigger threat soon with a major acquisition on the way.
Before the match began a tribute occurred for Junior Malanda who tragically died in a car accident on January 10. Afterwards, the Wolves handed Bayern their first lost of the season and the manager of the Bavarians believes the result was accurate due to the performances of each team.
“Congratulations to Wolfsburg, they did really well. We deserved to lose. Wolfsburg were better and scored their goals at just the right time. We need to analyze what’s happened and focus on the next game,” said Pep Guardiola after the match.
Even though the five-time European winners possessed the ball for close to 69% of the time, they were so predictable in their attack. The Wolves counter-attacked and moved as a unit to solidify themselves. Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and striker Bas Dost each had a brace in the victory. Similar to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA, Wolfsburg shares a strong strategy of playing team soccer. Instead of depending on individuals to propel the team to excellence, Dieter Hecking’s side prefers to be unselfish. In league play, at least seven players have scored three goals. Joint-top goalscorers De Bruyne, defender Naldo and utility Ivica Olic each have five goals in the league thus far.
De Bruyne has been a revelation to the team since he arrived from Chelsea last year. But this season the 23-year-old has improved vastly as a footballer and has become one the most underrated playmakers in the world. So far in 18 league matches, the Belgian international leads the Bundesliga with 11 assists.
“Kevin’s got that extra bit of class you need if you’re going to compete at the top. He’s one of those players that if you tell him to play as a No. 10, he’ll play out wide and vice versa. He’s always looking to make space and that makes it really tough for the opposition,” said Hecking.
Left-back Ricardo Rodriguez is another important facilitator for the Wolves as he whips in crosses from the flanks, but can also cut inside with his solid dribbling skills and pick out a teammate by producing a key pass. The Switzerland international also handles his defensive responsibilities and is a part of a defense which rotates between Sebastian Jung, Robin Knoche, Naldo and Vieirinha which has helped their squad have the third best defensive record in their league. Former Bayern defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo is the glue of his team. He sits in front of the back four and breaks up play then has the ability to begin the counter-attacking of the team. Because the fullbacks love to go forward and help create chances, the Brazilian international doesn’t roam far from his position and helps balance the team.
Since Juan Cuadrado’s deal to Chelsea seems imminent, the Blues do not have space anymore for forward and winger Andre Schurrle. Wolfsburg reportedly have signed the member of last year’s German World Cup winning side. The fee is supposedly for £22.5 million and it will break the club’s transfer record which was set last year when De Bruyne was purchased. Adding an attacking player that can play up front as the lone striker or on the right-hand side will add more versatility to an already potent team. Many believed that due to Borussia Dortmund’s horror season, Bayern Munich would have no competition domestically but Wolfsburg have proven to be legitimate and a team to be feared.
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