Wasted chance: For VfL, the 2017/2018 cup season has come to an abrupt end. On Wednesday evening, head-coach Martin Schmidt’s men were eliminated from the competition with a 0-1 (0-1) defeat away to FC Schalke 04. In a physical affair, the hosts took the lead with their first attempt on goal after ten minutes through Guido Burgstaller. On the night, the Wolves could find no way back into the tie and their dream of taking a semi-final place was duly dashed.
Rotation in the starting eleven
VfL head-coach Schmidt made three changes to his 4-2-3-1 system from the league clash with VfB Stuttgart at the weekend, with Paul Verhaegh, Daniel Didavi and Renato Steffen making way for Sebastian Jung, Yannick Gerhardt and Admir Mehmedi. In front of a crowd of 50,600 in the Veltins-Arena, the Swiss international made his starting eleven debut in the Green-White, whilst Maximilian Arnold led out the team as captain.
Early lead for S04
VfL made a bright start, looking to press forward, but suddenly found themselves trailing by 0-1 (10'), from the home side’s first attack of the game. Capitalising on a Wolfsburg error in the centre-circle, Burgstaller burst forward and ultimately clotted into the far left corner from seven meters out – no chance for Koen Casteels. Having gone in front, Schalke continued to push forward, combining quickly through Burgstaller and Pjaca. It was to take until the 20th minute, before the Wolves began to gain some stability on the ball. A Mehmedi free-kick (23') forced a scrambled save from Ralf Fährmann and then fortune favoured the hosts, as Yunus Malli cracked a shot against the crossbar from 18 meters out (24') – mere centimetres separated Schmidt’s eleven from an equaliser. The Green-Whites were the better team by mid-way through the first-half, but were unable to make use of the space available to them and thus went into the break trailing by 0-1.
Schalke hold out over the distance
Neither Schmidt nor Tedesco opted to make any alterations at the break. The Wolves were then forced to make an injury-related change, when a foul by Goretzka on VfL’s Marcel Tisserand ended the defender’s participation on the night. The full-back was replaced by William (61'). VfL looked to remain patient and avoid taking too many risks, ultimately leading to the tie dipping into a scrappy affair, as time began to become an issue for the 2015 title winners. In the 71st minute, Martin Schmidt added a further attacking option, with Didavi replacing Gerhardt, whilst on the opposite side, Cedric Teuchert made his debut for the 'Royal Blues.'. In the 80th minute, VfL striker Victor Osimhen made his DFB-Cup debut, replacing Josuha Guilavogui in a final offensive swoop. However, the Wolves created too little in front of goal on the night and missed out on the chance to equalise – allowing their semi-final dreams to drift away. The core-line was to remain a narrow 0-1.
FC Schalke 04: Fährmann – Kehrer, Naldo, Nastasic – Schöpf, Goretzka, Meyer, Oczipka – Harit (90' Caligiuri), Burgstaller, Pjaca (76' Teuchert)
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Jung, Bruma, Knoche, Tisserand (61' William) – Mehmedi, Guilavogui (80' Osimhen), Arnold, Gerhardt (71' Didavi), Malli – Origi
Goals: 0-1 Burgstaller (10')
Yellow cards: Oczipka, Naldo, Burgstaller / Mehmedi, Arnold, William
Attendance: 50,600 on Wednesday evening in the Veltins-Arena
Referee: Christian Dingert (Gries)