Oliver Glasner’s Wolfsburg are currently 3rd in the Bundesliga after 22 games. They started the season poorly after getting knocked out of the Europa League playoffs by AEK Athens. But since then, the German side have had an excellent domestic campaign. They are currently on a run of 7 clean sheets, and have conceded only 19 times in the league so far.
If you follow me on Twitter, you might know that Wolfsburg have been one my favourite teams this season. I’ve been following the Bundesliga, and Glasner’s side have been impressive, as shown by their league position. They have several players I really like, so I’m finally diving in and writing about them.
Above you can download and read a PDF of my analysis of Wolfsburg in their recent 3-0 against Arminia Bielefeld.
Something I believe is that partnerships and chemistry on the pitch is really important. It’s important for club culture and on the pitch with organisation and linkup play. Understanding the player next to you is going to be really useful. For example, wingers and full backs need to work together and have an understanding of each other so they can under and overlap. Strikers need to work together to run off of each other and not make the same runs.
You can look at this on the pitch as seen in the tweet above. You could link the positions differently from how I’ve done it. I also think that in these partnerships having an experienced player and younger player is good, resulting in a mentor and understudy. For example, you probably wouldn’t want two young centre backs playing together, but Brooks and Lacroix are a strong partnership with good balance.
Of course from the outside it’s hard to know about the relationships on the pitch, but I do like the mix of youth and experience they have in their team. Also, by watching them they are a very well organised and well coached team so I think it’s not unfair to say that they have strong chemistry within the side and good club culture.
Above you can see their squad utility graph. They have a core group of players and the team is very consistent. Wolfsburg have four U23 players who have played over 60% of minutes, 3 of them playing over 85%.
They have key players like Brooks, Weghorst and Steffen in their prime years and no ageing issues. This is a squad set up to build from here and only get better, especially if they can keep hold of their players. If their form continues and they qualify for the Champions League, they’ll be able to attract even more talent and keep hold of their current squad.
They also have good level of depth with lots of competition. Their starters aren’t far ahead of their backups and although the squad chosen is fairly consistent, if a player is sold or injured, in most positions they are already well set to adapt.
My main reservation about the squad, is that they rely heavily on Weghorst for goals. He’s such an important player for them, and while I do think they’ll hold onto him this summer, I don’t like being over-reliant on one player.
In my ideal squad, I’d have my goals spread across my attacking players. Their creation of goals is well spread, they have four players on four assists and Weghorst himself has three and then a bunch of players have one or two to their name. This is because you could say that their press is their playmaker and when playing on the counter you don’t rely on one player. Their defensive record has shown that they don’t need to be scoring tonnes of goals, I’d have concerns if Weghorst got injured for example how they’d adapt. Bialek is a young physical striker but its a lot of pressure on him to score if he had to step and replace Weghorst temporarily.
In 14/15, VfL Wolfsburg finished 2nd in the league behind Guardiola’s Bayern and won the DFB-Pokal. In the 15/16 season, they sold Kevin De Bruyne and Ivan Perisic. The following season Julian Draxler, Andre Schürrle, Bas Dost, Dante and Max Kruse all left, followed by Ricardo Rodríguez and Luiz Gustavo the next season.
After the 2nd placed finish, they finished then finished 8th, 16th, 16th, 6th and 7th seasons in the respective seasons since. They lost the core of those successful squads but have rebuilt successfully and are investing in youth effectively.
Below you can see their transfers since 17/18. Wolfsburg operate in ‘the middle market’, these are transfers between £5m and £15m. Particularly in the last three seasons, they have invested in U24 players and are definitely on a strong path to progress further and also make profit in the transfer market.
2021 Summer Recruitment
Looking at the Wolfsburg squad, I don’t think there are any glaring issues. Philipp is only on loan and I don’t think there has been any mention of an option to buy. Therefore, you’d assume bringing in a 10 to play off of Weghorst would be essential, ideally someone who can offer a decent goal threat. I’d also look to upgrade on one wing, bringing more of a goal threat, however Baku and Steffen have done fairly well this year but competition down the right is probably needed, especially as Baku is also the 2nd choice right back with William out on loan. You could bring in a more experienced backup for Weghorst and allow Bialek to play 3rd string or go out on loan.
So assuming they hold onto key players, their summer could look something like this:
- Philipp Replacement at 10
- Competition on the Right Wing
- Backup Striker
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