Last season was one of turmoil for VfL Wolfsburg. Three different managers in a season after Andries Jonker’s sacking less than a month into the season. Martin Schmidt who seemed to be turning things around resigned under mysterious circumstances so the job of keeping Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga was left to veteran Bruno Labbadia. A job he was successful with after beating Holstein Kiel 4-1 on aggregate after a second consecutive relegation playoff.
Despite the lowly finishing position Wolfsburg did manage to avoid defeat in away games at Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke and Bayer Leverksuen – drawing all four. Showing that while individual quality was present in the squad, a lack of motivation and desire was holding them back.
Managerial Backgroud – Bruno Labbadia
Bruno Labbadia is the footballing equivalent of a crisis manager. Brought in to save Stuttgart in 2010, Hamburg in 2015 and then Wolfsburg in 2018. He is yet to have sustained success with a club, often losing his job soon after saving that club from the drop.
Notable incomings include striker Daniel Ginczek from Stuttgart, pacey left-back Jerome Roussillon, Dutch striker Wout Weghorst and former Hannover winger Felix Klaus.
The club have looked to address the lack of goals with the summer signings. Roussillon and Klaus will add some much needed pace to the attack out wide. Ginczek is a proven Bundesliga striker and should provide more goals than Divock Origi was able to last year.
Daniel Didavi is the only first team player to have been sold, the attacking-midfielder returned to his former club Stuttgart as part of the deal to acquire Daniel Ginczek. Origi returned to Liverpool after a disappointing loan spell and young attacker Landry Dimata was loaned out to Belgium side RSC Anderlecht for the season.
To put it simply, Wolfsburg would like to be 15th or better by the time Matchday 34 is completed. After two consecutive relegation playoffs a season without having to play two more games after the regular season has finished would be much welcomed. A top half finish is a realistic possibility if everything clicks but Europe is a pipe-dream.
Young star Josip Brekalo making further developments will be an exciting side story this year. He has the potential to be the next superstar out of Wolfsburg following in the footsteps of Kevin De Bruyne, Ivan Perisic, Edin Dzeko and Mario Mandzukic. Wolfsburg’s fate this season rests heavily on his young shoulders as the main creative force in a team that has struggled massively for goals in the last few years.
Probable XI (4-2-3-1)
Casteels – William, Brooks, Knoche, Roussillon – Arnold, Guilavogui – Brekalo, Malli, Steffen – Ginczek.
By Thomas Pain.