VfL Wolfsburg – Match Report vs Augsburg 16/05/20

This is a guest article from Asit Patkar.

It was a dramatic return to football for Wolfsburg in their match against Augsburg. Having dominated much of the first half, Wolfsburg took the lead just before half time through a sensational header by Steffen. Things were looking good for them until Augsburg equalised within 10 minutes in the second half through a nicely executed set piece. There was a scare after Augsburg nearly took the lead through a second set piece goal, but Wolfsburg were saved by the VAR, which ruled out the goal, on account of being offside. Wolfsburg were able to snatch a late goal in the 91st minute, which secured the victory.

Oliver Glasner’s side were set up in 4-2-3-1. They were instructed to move the ball quickly and get the ball out in the wide areas as much as possible, to create crossing opportunities. Defensively, they pressed intensely and looked to create turnovers, limiting Augsburg’s time on the ball and forcing them into bad decisions. 

Ratings

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average, don’t follow up

Kevin Mbabu

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Swiss
  • Age: 25
  • Date of Birth: 19/04/1995
  • Current Club: Wolfsburg
  • Career: Servette FC, Newcastle United, Rangers, BSC Young Boys, Wolfsburg
  • Position: Right Back
  • Secondary Position: Centre Back, Left Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Playing as a right back in this game, Mbabu was very impressive. He was quick to get in advanced positions, looking to cross as early as possible. He has a good crossing technique and he was able to put in 3 good crosses in the match, one of which was an assist for the last-minute winner.

His main contribution to Wolfsburg’s buildup was great ability of carrying the ball. Attempting 10 dribbles in the game and completing 7 of them, it was him who progressed Wolfsburg’s attacks the most. He had the most touches in his team (105) but his passing was unimpressive. He often undertakes too much risks, which result in unnecessary turnovers. He should learn how to be patient and circulate the ball without giving away possession. His throw-in ability is a bonus for Wolfsburg.

He had a positive impact defensively. He’s significantly quick, which helps him in defending counter attacks. He’s fairly decent at tackling in 1v1 situations and his sturdy build prevents him from being pushed around by opponents. He was able to win 3 out of his 4 tackles and made an interception as well.

He has a great engine and his intensive pressing stopped Augsburg from being able to build up through the wide areas. He likes to be involved in the air and his height (6’0″) helps him win those aerial duels. He won 3 of them in the match and cleared the ball 4 times. His performance was a plus on both sides of the ball.

Rating – B1

Marin Pongračić

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Croatian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 11/09/1997
  • Current Club: Wolfsburg
  • Career: 1860 Munich, RB Salzburg, Wolfsburg
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Secondary Position: Defensive Midfielder, Right Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Playing as a centre back in this game, Pongracic looked like a very mature player. He was extremely composed on the ball and maintained his calmness, even when pressured. He remained unfazed and didn’t get forced into bad turnovers. His ball playing ability allows Wolfsburg to build out from the back and a decent touch on the ball means he rarely gets himself into bad situations. He made the most passes (87) in his team.

His 1v1 defence is strong. He doesn’t allow an attacker to get past him a lot and is able to stand his own ground. His pace and recovery skills fit well into Wolfsburg’s ideas of playing a high line. 

He showed great ability to compete in the air, winning all 5 of his aerial duels. He doesn’t lose his man often in set piece situations. He generally positioned himself well on the pitch, which allowed him to sniff out opposition attacks quickly. This helped him make 3 interceptions. 

However, he can get better at tackling, as he’s sometimes impatient and overly aggressive. His overall focus can improve as well. The signs are looking good for the Croatian and he’s showing early signs of developing into a solid defender at this level. 

Rating – A2

Maximilian Arnold

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: German
  • Age: 25
  • Date of Birth: 27/05/1994
  • Current Club: Wolfsburg
  • Career: Wolfsburg
  • Position: Central Midfielder
  • Secondary Position: Attacking Midfielder
  • Preferred foot: Left

Arnold once again showed why he’s one of the most consistent and reliable players in the league. He kept Wolfsburg ticking in the midfield and circulated the ball efficiently.

He made 7 long passes and 41 out of his 58 passes were forward passes, indicating his directness on the pitch. He’s instructed to take risks in an attempt to penetrate the opposition defence and aim to get the ball into the path of their attackers, who make runs into space.

He helps Wolfsburg build up by being a good passer and also has a good engine, which allows him to press relentlessly. He has a lot of experience at this level that aids his decision making, further helping him to be the smart player that he is.

Rating: B1

Josip Brekalo

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Croatian
  • Age: 21
  • Date of Birth: 23/06/1998
  • Current Club: Wolfsburg
  • Career: VFB Stuttgart, Dinamo Zagreb
  • Position: Right Wing
  • Secondary Position: Left Wing
  • Preferred foot: Left

Brekalo had a tough outing in the match. He started the match on the left and struggled to get himself involved in the game. Most of Wolfsburg’s attacks on the left were conducted through their left back and not Brekalo. He didn’t make much of an impression and was unable to impose himself on or off the ball. 

This led to him getting substituted in the 61st minute. However, it’s important to note that he’s still young and there’s plenty of room for development for the Croatian. Hopefully, we’ll see a better performance from him in the next match.

Rating: C

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