Here we go again! After eleven long years we’re back in the Bundesliga. We begin the season with a trip east to face VfL Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena. It’s been a busy last few months in Lower Saxony: Champions League qualification, a new Head Coach, an invalid substitution in the DFB-Pokal. Let’s have a look at VfL (Wolfsburg, not Bochum!)
German champions, DFB-Pokal winners. Playing Bundesliga football for 24 years now, the ‘wolves’ have already won both big titles. In the previous season the team from Lower Saxony experienced better times after some less successful years – including two relegation playoffs. In the 2020/21 Wolfsburg were flying high and ended up fourth in the table. So right after our Bundesliga comeback we are even facing a Champions League team. Wolfsburg were founded in 1945 and were only promoted to the Bundesliga in 1997. A spectacular 5-4 victory over 1. FSV Mainz 05 paved the way for them to become a top flight team. Since then, the Wolves sometimes have found themselves in relegation struggles as well as in the top five in the table, however they have not looked back since.
Last season, Austrian coach Oliver Glasner led the Wolves back to the Champions League. VfL have become a real top flight team under his leadership. They keep it tight at the back, in front of regular goalkeeper Koen Casteels formed one of the best defence lines in the league. Up front, forward Wout Weghorst seems to score for fun. After three seasons in Germany the Dutchman has scored 53 goals so far and is on track to break the record of Edin Dzeko (66 goals). For sure, his Head Coach would be proud of this himself. This summer Mark van Bommel took over. The former Bayern Munich player has gained lots of international experience. Apart from Munich, he also joined Barcelona and Milan as a professional player. As a manager he initially worked as an assistant coach, before joining PSV Eindhoven as Head Coach. A few weeks ago, he returned to Germany. His first competitive match was quite unusual. In the DFB-Pokal tie his side managed to score the winner against lower league club Preußen Münster in extra time, after the game ended 1-1. But whether the Wolves will be allowed to move to the next round is still doubtful as they used a sixth substitution in extra time. Münster raised an objection against the result, there hasn’t been a verdict yet.
The last clash, at least in a competitive fixture, has been a while. It took place in Bochum’s last year in Bundesliga. In March 2010 the lads went down 4-1 in Wolfsburg – despite being in the lead at half-time. The total Bundesliga record is almost evenly balanced. Wolfsburg count nine wins, Bochum eight wins, three draws. Looking at the Wolves, it turns out that Thomas Reis was in charge of Wolfsburg’s Youth side, while Sebastian Schindzielorz became German champion as a Wolfsburg player back in 2009. Originally being a reserves player, the manager at the time, Felix Magath, promoted him to the first team. In this very year ‘Sesi’ made six league appearances, three of them over the full ninety minutes. The upcoming opponent is very familiar to Elvis Rexhebcaj. The midfielder is a Wolfsburg loan and promptly takes on his former teammates in the opening match.
VfL Bochum 1848 had to play a man down for near-on 90 minutes in their away match against Champions League participants VfL Wolfsburg. The visitors were unlucky to lose 1-0 after Robert Tesche saw a red card after four minutes for handling the ball on the goal-line. Manuel Riemann saved the ensuing penalty from Weghorst, but the latter scored the winning goal after 22 minutes. After the interval, ten-man VfL pushed forward but just couldn’t find the equaliser despite displaying bags of heart and commitment.
After eleven long years in the second tier and on the 50th anniversary of our very first match in the Bundesliga, VfL Bochum looked forward to this match with Head Coach Thomas Reis fielding a starting XI of Gamboa, Lampropoulos, Leitsch and Soares in front of Riemann with Robert Tesche as a holding midfielder behind Losilla and Rexhbecaj. On the wings, there played new additions Asano and Antwi-Adjei with Zoller a lone striker.
Wolfsburg got off to a flying start with a cross from the left finding Baku whose missile shot hit the underside of the bar after less than a second. In the second minute, a Wolfsburg corner was nodded on towards the far post where Tesche blocked it but the Bochum relief was short-lived when VAR ruled Tesche to have handled the ball which led to a penalty and a sending off for our Player of the Season 20/21. Wolfsburg’s top scorer Wout Weghorst sent the ball towards the bottom right corner but saw his effort thwarted by an excellent save by Manu Riemann who actually managed to hold on to the ball.
The hosts tried to capitalise on their numerical superiority and after eleven minutes, Weghost rose to a corner and seemed certain to score but .it was again Riemann to the rescue for VfL Bochum.
Just three minutes later, VfL came close for the first time when Antwi-Adjei was through on the left and it needed a last-gasp block by Brooks to stop him. The resulting corner by Rexhbecaj found Zoller whose header ended up on the roof of the net.
In the 22nd minute, a corner found Weghorst about 15 yards out, the striker chested the ball down, took it past three Bochum defenders and his excellent low drive gave Riemann no chance at all, 1-0.
Against a ten-man Bochum side, Wolfsburg dominated possession but apart from a cross by Roussillon towards Weghorst which was pushed away by Riemann, they did not create anything meaningful
For the second half, Thomas Reis introduced Pantović for Asano, but it was the hosts again in the driving seat with Riemann pulling off brilliant saves against Weghorst and Roussillon on 46 and 48 minutes.
After 51 minutes, Riemann was called into action again when Baku headed but ‘keeper was in exactly the right position. Five minutes later, Riemann made his only mistake of the match when his pass ended up in the feet of Steffen who crossed to Weghorst, but Riemann was back and saved.
VfL Bochum 1848 were clawing their way back and at around 66 minutes Rexhbecaj let fly from the left corner of the penalty area. His shot went wide but seemed to energise the whole team into doubling their efforts of not only defending but pushing for an equaliser. But it was that man Weghorst again who had the next chance when he was put through on 75 minutes but his low shot was blocked by Riemann’s foot.
Just two minutes later, VfL seemed certain to reward themselves for their efforts when Rexhbecaj’s great pass put Pantović through, who controlled the ball well but his low shot was eventually saved by Casteels.
VfL Bochum threw on Bockhorn for Gamboa after 77 and Ganvoula for Lampropoulos after 88 minutes, but the only chance came when Rexhbecaj tried his luck again from a distance but saw the ball fly wide of the left post.
Despite being a man short for virtually all of the match and Wolfsburg enjoying a lot of possession, VfL recovered from a shaky start, showed solid defending and great morale by pushing back the hosts and coming close to an equaliser. Now the team have to build on this performance and make the most of our home advantage against Mainz next Saturday. With several players hopefully coming back from injury and Sebastian Polter new to the squad, VfL Bochum will hope for a point or three at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion…