VfL Wolfsburg is about to return to the Champions League, five years after the last participation in the premier class, the team of coach Mark van Bommel will take on the French champions OSC Lille on Tuesday – with a lot of feeling.
Appreciate each other: Wolfsburg’s coach and VfL keeper Koen Casteels.
Koen Casteels has already stood between the posts twice in the Champions League for VfL Wolfsburg, but the duel with Lille on Tuesday (9 p.m., LIVE! At kicker) near his Belgian home is something else. For the first time, the 29-year-old is leading his team as number one and, on top of that, as captain in the premier class. “The anticipation,” says the goalkeeper, “is great, we worked hard for that last season.”
Highlight weeks for casteels
For Casteels, these are highlight weeks of his career, even if the cautious goalkeeper doesn’t want to emphasize that too much himself. “It’s no different than usual,” he says on the one hand. However: Last week he played his second international match for Belgium, for the first time he played over 90 minutes for the “Red Devils” against Belarus (1-0), and the Champions League now has additional highlights in store. Casteels, who have only been beaten by a penalty in four games in the league, sees this as a “reward for working hard”. His wish comes as no surprise: “I hope it can go on for a long time.”
New coach Mark van Bommel has long recognized the class that VfL has between its posts. “I think Koen has improved again,” said the Dutchman, who sees his goalkeeper at the top of the league. The 44-year-old attested the Belgian to “top level”, who in turn praised the coach. Van Bommel is currently leading his team to the top of the Bundesliga with a lot of feeling. And in the feasible Group G of the Champions League, possibly successfully through the group: “It’s an advantage,” explains Casteels, “if you have a coach who has gained the experience himself and has played at a top level.” How does it make itself noticeable? “He knows how we feel on the pitch.” Things that van Bommel can also profitably address in a half-time break. “Those are the little things that can decide a game.”
It is an advantage to have a coach who has gained the experience himself and has played at a top level.
Little things that could also be necessary on Tuesday in Lille, although the French champions OSC started the season with problems in contrast to VfL. Nevertheless, van Bommel, who has all the players on board apart from the long-term injuries: “We will certainly not underestimate our opponents.” Wolfsburg wants to win – if need be with feeling.