VfL Wolfsburg in the Champions League: The view is only ahead

Ttheoretically they are allowed to bathe in superlatives. Best start to the season in the club’s history, four Bundesliga wins out of four attempts: what gives the formidable professionals of VfL Wolfsburg cause for arrogance, their new coach resolutely wipes away. “These are statistics. Nice, ”says Mark van Bommel. The head coach of Lower Saxony does not stay longer than necessary in his strong debut and the most recent 2-0 win at promoted Greuther Fürth.

To be leader of the league table without losing points will not help him in the Champions League at all. “Immediately change your head”: This is what van Bommel calls what he and his team do all the time. Fürth was yesterday. This Tuesday, the game at Lille OSC (9 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Champions League and at DAZN). Van Bommel claims that he knows exactly how to switch to the next level.

At first glance it feels strange. VfL Wolfsburg returns this week to top European football with the recommendation to be Germany’s currently most successful team. Or at least the most effective. The sovereign success in Fürth has provided little concrete information about how good VfL really is under van Bommel’s care. The opening goal by Lukas Nmecha (10th minute) was due to a lucky pass from striker Wout Weghorst and to some coincidence. The 2-0 was reserved for Weghorst in stoppage time with a penalty. Overall, the victory in Fürth was hard-fought, lackluster and yet deserved.

“You have to be well prepared”

The balancing act between Fürth and Lille is not an easy one. But with van Bommel, VfL Wolfsburg has a veteran on board who gives all active and passive employees support. He won the Champions League title as a professional with FC Barcelona. At the age of 44, the Dutchman knows from his own experience how young players manage to cope with the additional stress of everyday Bundesliga life. “You have to experience that and be well prepared,” says van Bommel.

In order for this to work, he is supported by a large staff in Wolfsburg, which closely monitors the physical fitness and mental state of the players as well as the strengths of the opponent. Important data analyzes are mentioned when van Bommel speaks of good preparation for the next task.


Things are going well in the league: Wolfsburg’s midfielder Maximilian Philipp (right) in a duel with Greuter Fürth’s defender Maximilian Bauer.
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Image: AFP

Wolfsburg’s collective dream of surviving the group stage of the Champions League in competition with OSC Lille, FC Sevilla and RB Salzburg has a solid foundation. The VfL squad is generous. The individual strengths are spread over so many shoulders that there is little dependence on individual talent.

And van Bommel is a very confident guy. He lives this to his players. And Jörg Schmadtke sees the Champions League as a big stage on which the VfL players have to work out new things – and as a hurdle that can be overcome. “If the package is too big,” warns the managing director of VfL Wolfsburg, “then you have a problem. But our squad is set up in such a way that we can cope with it. “

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