Wolves head-coach Bruno Labbadia spoke ahead of his VfL competitive coaching debut.
On Friday evening, February 23rd (kick-off 20:30 CET), The Wolves open Bundesliga matchday 24 with an away clash at 1. FSV Mainz 05. The clash with the club from Mainz is an extremely significant one for Wolfsburg in the race for top-flight survival: The Green-Whites are currently just one point clear of Mainz 05, who are in the relegation play-off spot on 23 points. At the same time, it is also the first game in charge for new VfL head-coach Bruno Labbadia. Prior to his debut on the VfL bench, Labbadia spoke about…
…his first days in Wolfsburg: It’s naturally a very intensive time that we are experiencing together right now. The team have experienced many changes in a very short period of time and that’s not easy to deal with. I have attempted to quickly get into conversation with the players. I explained to the lads what I see in them, made it clear that the next steps must be taken and explained, that we now must focus on the essentials. The guys are all extremely committed, but it’s all about how we portray that on the pitch.
…the game-plan: What I have conveyed to the team is good organisation and compactness. We are going to try get a good passing game going and be courageous in front of goal. I don’t expect everything to work perfectly on Friday, but I want to stabilise the team and support them whatever way possible. First and foremost, I want to see the things we have discussed being implemented and that we approach the task as a collective unit – regardless of the result! Naturally, we always play to win. We want to play football, but also to defend as a functioning unit. Initially we intend to focus on just a few, decisive factors. That’s a particular issue now! You can’t immediately change everything, but the elements we do alter must be done so resolutely.
…the opponents: Mainz have always been a side that works well as a collective group. They have struggled at times this season, but recently in berlin they put on one of their best performances of the season. They are an opponent that know what needs to be done – which they showed in that game. It is up to us to disrupt that.
…the personnel situation: Yunus Malli trained again yesterday. Admir Mehmedi had some problems when shooting. We’ll have to wait and see how things go with them. Victor Osimhen was forced out of training prematurely yesterday with a calf problem, so we’ll have to wait and see how things are with him too. The return of John Anthony Brooks, Ignacio Camacho and Felix Uduokhai is still not clear, but we don’t need to discuss who is not available, rather focus our attention on who’s there. We’ll have a good side out on the pitch tomorrow. For some it will be the chance to make themselves indispensable. That is something I am hoping for, especially as every member of the squad is so important right now.