by Lewis Ambrose
This summer’s Emirates Cup welcomes German side Vfl Wolfsburg, who will play against Arsenal on Sunday in the final match of the competition.
Wolfsburg are coming off the back of an incredibly impressive season and will be aiming even higher for the new campaign, but what are Arsenal up against?
The 2014/15 season saw Wolfsburg finish second in the Bundesliga, only behind runaway champions Bayern Munich. Late season dip in form from Bayern meant ‘Die Wölfe’ ended up just 10 points adrift, a gap they will seek to close this year.
A Europa League journey ended in defeat to Napoli but Wolfsburg went on to win the DFB Pokal (German Cup), defeating Borussia Dortmund 3-1 in Berlin on the same day that Arsenal won the FA Cup back in May.
Under Dieter Hecking Wolfsburg have become one of the most dangerous counter-attacking sides in all of Europe. Defensively the team isn’t so solid, particularly away from home but they counter with intelligence and at breakneck speed, making the most of any space that the opposition leaves out wide.
It was these counter attacks which lent themselves to the majority of Kevin de Bruyne’s 10 goals and 20 assists in 34 Bundesliga appearances, as well as the 16 goals of serial poacher Bas Dost.
They also pose a huge threat from set-pieces with Ricardo Rodriguez and Naldo abilities from long-range adding to the huge aerial threat from corners.
It is undoubtedly de Bruyne. Everything went through the former Chelsea man last season and he is the player to stop. Quick on the break, excellent technique and decision making while also packing a mean shot of his own. Allegedly a £50M target of Manchester City’s.
Though Dost scored plenty last season he doesn’t have a great all-round game, so Max Kruse has been brought in from Borussia Mönchengladbach for €12M.
Francisco Rodriguez, brother of highly-rated left back Ricardo, has joined from FC Zurich but there have been no other notable ins or outs. André Schürrle joined from Chelsea back in January.
Ivan Perišić and Kevin de Bruyne could yet leave this summer.
Wolfsburg almost always play in a 4-2-3-1 and with very few additions the team is unlikely to look much different to last year.
Vierinha, Naldo, Timm Klose, Ricardo Rodriguez;
Joshua Guilavoguo, Max Arnold;
Daniel Caligiuri, Kevin de Bruyne, André Schürrle;