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14/15 Season Review: VfL Wolfsburg

Article written by: @MrCalliJ

I think it is fair to say, this season has the potential to be VfL Wolfsburg’s best season for a very long time. Although the Bundesliga title looks likely to be heading back to Munich as Bayern Munich coast their way through the Bundesliga season winning game after game, VfL Wolfsburg have fought valiantly throughout. In the challenge they have faced throughout the course of the season against the power and dominance of Bayern Munich, their 4-1 thrashing of the reigning Bundesliga champions does indeed standout which of course included 2 goals from the previously in-form, Dutch forward Bas Dost.

But again, despite being out of the running in my opinion for this years Bundesliga title, the German side continue to perform in the German Cup where they currently find themselves in Semi-Finals, and also in the Europa League where admittedly, they have done well to reach the Quarter Finals after impressive victories against the strength of Internazionale & Sporting Lisbon, however qualification after their colossal defeat at the hands of Serie A side Napoli make it a tough task to progress much further in a highly competitive competition.

Throughout all areas of the VfL Wolfsburg squad, it’s hard to find a player that hasn’t been consistently impressive this season, however I have to say there a few players that have stood out much more than the vast majority. For many including myself, the likes of Bas Dost, Andre Schurrle, Ricardo Rogriguez and Naldo come to mind and have all produced a number of noteworthy performances during the course of the 2014/15 season in all competitions. Yet, if the headlines and transfer rumours are anything to go by, one player has implemented himself onto the world scale as one of the best play-makers in the world; Kevin De Bruyne.

After José Mourinho sold the Belgian star to VfL Wolfsburg after a troubled time at Stamford Bridge, it’s fair to say that many could have perhaps viewed it as a step backwards and not a major signing that would vastly improve either the player of the club drastically due to the lack of game-time Kevin De Bruyne enjoyed whilst at Chelsea. But quite clearly, Kevin De Bruyne has completely dispelled the myth and has this season has come on leaps and bounds in Germany, with an impressive tally of 14 goals and 22 assists in just 38 games. Such a record is both easily and also statistically one of the best records in Europe at this time of writing.

Another factor which has also caught the eye of many is how consistent the Belgian midfielders’ performances have been for both club and country, with his versatility in particular standing out in attacking areas. And at just 23 years of age, you can’t help but think he’s going to progress not just into the World Class player he has shown many signs of this season, but perhaps once again progress further with a possible move to one of the European elite on the horizon this Summer.

Yet despite the many plaudits that De Bruyne has received throughout the season in the media, I’d like to focus on the contribution from the full Wolfsburg side and its credit to their squad, their style of play and their organisation that the German side have had so much success this season. This year much differently to last, it has been much more  of a team performance with defenders and midfielders proving as pivotal as the forwards in both assisting and scoring goals. The likes of Brazilian Luiz Gustavo and the talented young midfielder Joshua Guilavogui have formed a solid partnership in the centre of that midfield. And with a very tight unit and confident group of defenders behind the rocks in the centre of the pitch, which usually consists of a back four of Rodriguez – Naldo – Knocke – Jung, Gustavo and Guilavogui have thrived. Such a defence that Wolfsburg boasts has one of the best defensive records in the whole of Germany and has ultimately played a big factor in their current second place position.

Another factor in their current position is the playing style Dieter Hecking has brought to the team. Lining up in a usual 442 formation with an emphasis on pressing high up the pitch similar to Jurgen Klopp’s tactic of ‘Geigenpressing’ which he used so well with Borussia Dortmund over the years, VfL Wolfsburg have had consistent success with such a style of play during 2014/15. Furthermore, in the final third Wolfsburg emulate a similar style of play to current 2013/14 La Liga title winners and operate similarly to Atlético Madrid, combining the prolific Bas Dost as a target man similarly to the way Atlético Madrid do with Mario Mandzukic with a creative attacking midfielder and often striker in the shape of Kevin De Bruyne, similar to Griezmann’s role at Atlético. Kevin De Bruyne like Frenchman Antoine Griezmann stretches the defence and creates opportunities for his strike partner Bas Dost and despite the similarities with Borussia Dortmund, many positive comparisons can also be drawn with Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid.

So all things considered, as I started my season review with, it really is clear to see that VfL Wolfsburg do have the potential to not only continue being a genuine threat to the likes of Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen but also to challenge in every competition they find themselves competing in. It is unclear how far the German side will continue to progress this season with the league looking more and more difficult to win as every game passes, but despite the uncertainty this season, it looks a much clearer picture for next season in how far they can progress next season. If they can keep the spine of their team as well as manager Dieter Hecking, forget the future being orange, the future could well be green in the German Bundesliga.

Article written by: @MrCalliJ

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