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Bundesliga Vorschau – 2018-19 Bundesliga Preview: VfL Wolfsburg

It was not that long ago that Wolfsburg was a contender for the international places in the Bundesliga and won the DFB Cup against Borussia Dortmund in the final. Now the “Wolves” are licking their wounds after a horrendous season and will look to bounce back. Can Wolfburg establish themselves in the top half of the table or will they once again battle relegation?

Last Season

Bundesliga: 16th place – 33 points (6W-15D-13L)

DFB Cup: Quarterfinal – 1:0 loss against Schalke 04

6 wins, 15 draws and 13 losses led to a measly 33 points and 16th place last season. A terrible result for a team that aimed to compete for the international places at the start of the season. Instead they had to play in the relegation games against Holstein Kiel for the right to stay in the Bundesliga. The “Wolves” were fairly dominant in both of those games wining both (1:0 and 3:1) but this is of course not what they had in mind when they started the season.

Most of their transfers last season flopped, Camacho, Dimata, Mehmedi and Origi all failed to leave a lasting impression. In addition injuries like John Anthony Brooks’ tendon tear didn’t help.

Just four games into the season Wolfburg already made a change at the coaching position, replacing Andries Jonker with Martin Schmidt. Nevertheless the change didn’t yield the success they envisioned and they let go of the Swiss coach after just 19 games with Wolfsburg being in 14th place at the time. Bruno Labbadia took over for the remaining 11 games but he couldn’t turn things around with only 2 victories and the team finishing in 16th place.

Transfers

Transfers in:

  • Daniel Ginczek (ST) – VfB Stuttgart – 14€ million
  • Wout Weghorst (ST) – AZ Alkmaar – 10.50€ million
  • Jérôme Roussillon (LB) – HSC Montpellier – 8€ million
  • Marcel Tisserand (CB) – FC Ingolstadt – 7€ million
  • Felix Klaus (RW) – Hannover 96 – 3€ million
  • Pavao Pervan (GK) – LASK – unknown

Transfers out:

  • Daniel Didavi (CAM) – VfB Stuttgart – 4€ million
  • Landry Dimata (ST) – RSC Anderlecht – Loan
  • Divock Origi (ST) – FC Liverpool – Loan end

Once again Wolfsburg have invested a significant amount of money into their squad. In recent years that didn’t exactly pan out as expected but they are finally looking to tunr things around and find their footing in the Bundesliga.

Ginczek, Klaus and Tisserand who spend already last year on loan in Wolfsburg, know the Bundesliga well and will probably not need much time to fit into Wolfsburg’s squad. Especially the acquisition of Klaus for only 3€ million is a good transfer for the “Wolves”, the winger scored 4 goals and had 9 assists last season for Hannover. Weghorst and Roussillon on the other hand are two relative unknowns. Wout Weghorst had somewhat of a breakout season in the Netherlands last season scoring 27 goals in 37 games for Alkmaar but it remains to be seen if he can reproduce that scoreline in the Bundesliga. Wolfsburg hope the addition of Roussillon will help to shore up the left back position which was a problem last season after losing Ricardo Rodriguez in the summer of 2017.

Daniel Didavi, Landry Dimata and Divock Origi are the only players that left Wolfsburg that played significant minutes for the club. However none of them made a big impact last season, especially Didavi and Origi disappointed.

What to expect in 2018/19

Nobody really knows what to expect from VfL Wolfsburg. Personally I expected them to make a coaching change this summer but surprisingly they decided to keep going with Labbadia, a decision that could very well backfire.

The additions are solid but they will need better performances from players like Brooks, Arnold, Mehmedi and Malli if they want to avoid yet another relegation battle. On paper this team is good enough to finish in the middle of the table or with a bit of luck even make a run for a top 6 spot. However if they once again have injury problems or some of their players struggle they might find themselves in yet another relegation battle.

If Wolfsburg find success it will most likely be because of a strong defense built around their young and talented centerback duo of John Anthony Brooks and Ohis Felix Uduokhai. Their midfield consisting of Camacho, Guilavogui and Arnold is also talented enough to put their young wingers, Klaus and Brekalo in some good situations that they can take advantage of. The biggest unknown for Wolfsburg will be if either Ginczek or Weghorst can score regularly for a team that otherwise lacks players that can be a threat in front of the goal.

Prediction: Solid mid-table finish

Wolfsburg truly are unpredictable for the upcoming season. Their transfers are solid but they will hope that players like Brooks, Mehmedi and Malli will finally find their form in Wolfsburg and propel them into the first half of the table or even further. However that is only if everything goes right for the “Wolves”, in the end they will probably find themselves in the 9th-12th range.