VfL Wolfsburg play their third game in the space of eight days on Saturday as Borussia Mönchengladbach visit the Volkswagen Arena (kick-off 15:30 CEST). It has been a testing week for Bruno Labbadia’s troops, with a 3-1 defeat at home to Freiburg followed by a 0-0 draw at 1. FSV Mainz 05 in midweek. However, the VfL head coach is not concerned about his squad's energy levels: “We’re well prepared so I don’t have any worries there,” he said in Friday’s pre-match press conference.
There is likewise little cause for concern with regard to the pre-game statistics. The Wolves are unbeaten in their last 13 home matches against Gladbach, winning 11 of them – their longest current unbeaten run against any Bundesliga side. Indeed, it has been 15 years since the Foals last won at the Volkswagen Arena. Yet as impressive a record as that is, it will have no bearing on the outcome of Saturday’s match. “Gladbach are one of the best footballing sides in the Bundesliga,” said Labbadia. “The squad have been together for a while and you can notice that. They’ve always made very sensible additions to their team.” With ten points from their first five games, Gladbach have started the campaign as well as they did in 2016/17 – but it’s 42 years since they had more points on the board at this stage.
Learning from mistakes
“For me it’s important that we keep up the progress we’ve made. Being able to deal with mistakes is important,” continued Labbadia, who emphasised that the process is far from over and will require constant work: “Everyone knows the kind of football we were playing two or three months ago. We'd be dreamers if we thought everything would just continue as it is without putting the work in. But it can continue and that’s something we believe in. As a coaching team we try to live out that belief.”
Mehmedi and Bruma doubtful
Labbadia won’t know exactly which players he has at his disposal for the game until late in the day. “Admir Mehmedi had problems after the match at Mainz because his toenail was already inflamed before the game,” he said. “That’s very painful and it gave him problems during the match too, so we’ll have to see how he gets along.” Jeffrey Bruma, who pulled up during the warm-up before the development squad’s midweek Premier League International Cup game, is also a doubt. “Jeffrey stepped on someone’s foot during the warm-up and twisted as he did so, so we need to see what today’s scan says.” Otherwise the coach has a full squad to pick from.