Wolfsburg – Match Report vs Schalke 20/06/20

Wolfsburg came out 4-1 winners over Schalke to put them 6th in the Bundesliga going into the final game week. Therefore taking the final Europa League spot, beating Hoffenheim to it on goal difference at the moment, meaning next week is very important. However, Hoffenheim and Wolfsburg face Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich respectively which is an easy end to the season.

Wolfsburg attacked in a 4-4-2, looking to attack the wings at speed and utilise top scorer Weghorst in the middle, which they did well as he scored a first half brace. They pressed in midfield well but Schalke put in yet another very poor display which made it easy for Wolfsburg, who had the best chances of the game.

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, re-watch
  • D – Below average in this match

Xaver Schlager

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Austrian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 28/09/1997
  • Current club: VfL Wolfsburg
  • Career: RB Salzburg, VfL Wolfsburg
  • Position: Centre Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Left

Schlager played as the right sided centre midfielder, the 5’8″ Austrian is quite stocky in build with decent aggression. He pressed the midfield well with good body positioning and intensity. He showed good strength in the challenge and made it difficult for opponents to receive the ball. He hassled players from behind and was positioned quite well. He was the deeper of the two midfielders, often screening in front of the centre halves.

His positioning in possession wasn’t great and in transition he lacked intensity at times. If his team lost the ball he was slow to regain his position in the block at times and lacked concentration, seeming a bit switched off. In possession he didn’t do much and was often quite static. He pushed into the half spaces to support wide players with a simple inside passing option but didn’t adjust his positioning enough and often ended up cutting his own teams’ passing lanes, taking up teammate’s space and just not being very useful.

When he did get the ball, he was quite left footed and didn’t open his open enough to spread play and didn’t spend much time on the ball. He could have received on the back foot more to then turn and play forwards. His passing was smooth and he did well to progress it down both wings with first time passes and was decent under pressure, with a low centre of gravity and good turning speed. With two quick creative wingers, Schlager did well to access them and play balls down the wings. He kept a high tempo by not taking many touches which could also be why he didn’t open his hips more.

Rating – B1

Josip Brekalo

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Croatian
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 23/06/1998
  • Current club: VfL Wolfsburg
  • Career: Dinamo Zagreb, VfL Wolfsburg, VfB Stuttgart (L)
  • Position: Left Wing
  • Secondary position: Attacking Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Playing on the left wing, the 5’9″ Croatian is very slim in build and lacks physicality. He does have decent acceleration and pace to drive into space down the wings. Under pressure he did okay to protect the ball but couldn’t get his head up and play out and just lacked strength. He hugged the touchline and wanted balls played into the channels and space to run into.

He was very direct and wants to always play forwards and make things happen, this can lead to taking too long on the ball before releasing and taking long shots whenever possible. In 1v1s he wanted to use his pace on the outside or could cut inside with a sharp change of direction. If he had to take on his man directly he did it quite half hearted and without conviction, losing the ball. Also, he was slow to regain his position in the block and didn’t defend with much enthusiasm. Once he was in the block his positioning was decent though.

Overall, he’s a sound technical wide player but lacks physicality and didn’t get into enough crossing positions or create much in the final third, preferring to cut in onto his stronger foot but wasn’t able to really threaten goal either.

Rating – B2

Marin Pongracic

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Croatian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of birth: 11/09/1997
  • Current club: VfL Wolfsburg
  • Career: Bayern Munich (Y), Ingolstadt (Y), 1860 Munich (Y), RB Salzburg, VfL Wolfsburg
  • Position: Centre Half
  • Preferred foot: Right

Due to another poor attacking performance from Schalke, Pongracic had a fairly easy role. Schalke’s attack was isolated and didn’t have much support. He pressed the ball well and used his body, making it difficult for the opposition to receive the ball. He dealt with long balls fairly well, with good pace and confidence he was able to cover the space behind well. He did have to deal with Rabbi Matondo who was playing as a striker but drifted to the left side a lot. For Schalke’s consolation goal, Matondo ran diagonally from the left wing in behind the defensive line. He was in Pongracic’s blindspot and he allowed the Welsh attacker in behind and wasn’t able to catch up despite showing good pace.

The Croatian has good, smooth passing along the back four and looked to carry the ball forwards. If there was space in front of him he’s carry into it, and also after winning the ball he looked to drive into midfield a few times. Showing solid control and good strength on the ball, if not the most elegant player. In the box, he was good in the air and his body position when the ball was wide was okay but could have been slightly better and was a bit inconsistent with his scanning.

Rating – B1

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