Bundesliga Team Report: VfL Wolfsburg
We’ve been profiling teams across the length and breadth of Germany, analysing the Bundesliga teams you should manage in Football Manager 2020.
Die Wölfe started life as a worker’s team for Volkswagen and after spending most of the 20th century in Germany’s lower divisions, they have been Bundesliga mainstays since 1997. Many tipped the club to drop straight back down the divisions after their initial promotion, but they thrived in the top-flight, regularly qualifying for European competitions and winning the league title in the 2008/09 season. In fact, Wolfsburg were the last side other than Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund to win the Bundesliga.
Since then, the club have regularly competed with Germany’s elite and in 2015 they enjoyed their best year of the last decade, finishing second in the league, winning the DfB Pokal and lifting the Supercup before the start of the following season.
Being the only club from the state of Lower Saxony and challenging the elite is the sort of mission Football Manager was built for. Here’s everything you need to know before kicking off your adventure at the Volkswagen Arena.
Media Prediction: 9th
Board Expectation: Qualify for the EURO Cup
Your immediate task is ensuring you qualify for the EURO Cup at the season’s end. Achieving this through your league position requires a fifth or sixth placed finish. While higher than the media expect of you, this is merely a case of replicating what the club did in 2018/19, when they finished sixth.
However, the board do expect you to prosper in all three competitions the club are involved in – the Bundesliga, DfB Pokal and the EURO Cup. Making the quarter finals in both cups is the minimum, so you will have to rotate and make use of the whole squad. Giving these cup games some love will serve you well – winning the DfB Pokal guarantees you a EURO Cup place. There’s also some additional wiggle room if a club already qualified for the Champions Cup wins it, as that puts whoever finishes seventh in Europe as well.
The board’s other expectations are financial. They want you to work within the wage budget and offer four-year contracts to the starting XI; Wolfsburg are a forward planning club. For seasons two and three, you are expected to push towards the top four (i.e. finish fifth) and then achieve a top four finish respectively. Steady progression – the perfect environment for bringing through young talent.
When studying the Wolfsburg squad, the first thing you’ll notice is options. The personnel at your disposal are perfectly suited to a high-pressing style, with either a flat back four or the more in-vogue three central defenders, using the talents of Robin Knoche, John Brooks, Josuha Guilavogui, Marcel Tisserand and Marin Pongracic alongside two adventurous wing-backs like Kevin Mbabu and Jerome Roussillon.
In midfield, there is a nice balance between creativity and steel. Ignacio Camacho is a dependable ball-winner, while talented young Austrian Xaver Schlager and his more experienced German teammate Maximilian Arnold are playmakers capable of turning on a sixpence and spreading the ball across the park.
It’s options aplenty in the wide areas, with Renato Steffen, Ismail Azzaoui, Felix Klaus, Admir Mehmedi, Joao Victor and the hugely talented Josip Brekalo all at your disposal. Each is very capable and thrives in differing roles, meaning you’ll have options for every occasion.
The only area you’re slightly limited in is up front, where you only have two out-and-out strikers in the shape of Daniel Ginczek and Wout Weghorst. They are very similar players, which is an advantage as you can maintain the same system while rotating, while Mehmedi can also play as a striker if you are looking to go with two up top.
Wolfsburg captain when you walk through the door, experienced Frenchman Guilavogui is the sort of leader every team needs. He’s a physical player who is equally comfortable playing in central defence, defensive midfield and central midfield. That versatility will come in handy as you maintain a campaign on three fronts, while his leadership skills make him a great mentor for new signing Pongracic.
Croatian wide player Brekalo has been with Wolfsburg since 2016 but it’s in the last two seasons that he’s made a real impression. Quick off the mark, the 21-year-old is a hive of industry, often going on mazy dribbles before fashioning opportunities for himself and his teammates. Equally comfortable on both wings, he has the sort of stats to make any manager blush with anticipation – 16 Dribbling, 16, Acceleration, 17 Agility, 17 Flair. You’ll need that creativity if you’re to succeed but you’ll also need to maximise your youth development skills to fully harness his potential, the highest in the squad.
Weghorst is basically the perfect target man. Having scores of 18, 17, 16 and 16 for Jumping Reach, Strength, Finishing and Work Rate illustrate exactly what the Dutchman brings to the table. He is a constant aerial threat with a prolific track record everywhere he’s been; he found the back of the net 17 times during his maiden Bundesliga season with Wolfsburg.
An often overlooked but vital part of Weghorst’s arsenal is his ‘Gets Crowd Going’ trait. That passion and drive can be a difference maker in tight games – the sort of ties that can determine whether you qualify for Europe or not when all is said and done.
Die Wölfe have done a good job in real life of promoting several of their youth prospects to the first team squad. Aside from the aforementioned Brekalo, Schlager has a really high ceiling and at just 21 when the save starts, he can be the creative lynchpin of your midfield for a generation.
Right wing-back Kevin Mbabu is another high potential player already getting regular minutes, while the standout name from the academy is winger John Yeboah. The German teenager is a great dribbler, with a good turn of pace and an eye for the extravagant. It will be important to factor him into your plans from the start, so that he stays on the right development path and becomes a key player for years to come.
The Final Word
Wolfsburg present an exciting challenge with short and long-term goals. Initially, the focus is on steady development and being competitive on all fronts. The board don’t want Rome built in a day, giving you time to experiment and develop the existing crop of exciting young players. Give it a couple of seasons and you’ll be ready to mount a very serious challenge for a second Bundesliga crown and potentially much more.
Become an Insider for the latest feature drops and game upgrades, as well as the very best Football Manager content from the community and hand-picked partner offers.
We have sent you an email with a link to verify your account and become a fully-fledged member.
Something went wrong! Please try again.