The period without Bundesliga action is finally at an end, as the ball gets rolling again in Germany’s top-flight this weekend. And that also naturally applied to VfL Wolfsburg: The Green-Whites close matchday 18 away to Borussia Dortmund on Sunday, January 14th (kick-off 18:00 CET). In spite of this season’s winter-break being unusually short, VfL head-coach Martin Schmidt considers his side to be well-equipped for the clash in the Ruhr-Valley: "We are ready for this game. The break was a short one, which means the players didn’t lose much and were quickly back in match-play mode. The mood is good, motivation is high and everyone is focused on the work to be done – those are the best prerequisites to take points in Dortmund."
"Dortmund will want to control the game"
Having experienced a less than completely satisfying first half to their season, Borussia will be eager to turn over a new leaf and they will be fired on by their enthusiastic supporters in the packed former Westfalenstadion. "Dortmund will want to control the game and make an immediate impact. They will be playing in their own cathedral and they’ll be pushed on by their fans," noted Schmidt. Although BVB instated a new coach shortly before the winter-break, the style of play has barely been altered under the guidance of Peter Stöger. "They still play the 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1 system, which the team was duly compiled for. If all goes according to plan for them, then it’s clear we’ll be facing one of the league’s absolute favourites."
"Contain Dortmund‘s offensive"
The fact that the Dortmund attack, with star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, is extremely potent, has not escaped Schmidt, who has set out his game-plan accordingly: "We need to contain Dortmund’s offensive. You know what you’ll be dealing with: maximal tempo and ideal movement and passes played in by Weigl or Castro for the strikers." With 39 goals to their credit thus far, BVB are one of the most dangerous attacking sides in the Bundesliga. However, the 24 goals conceded are also evidence that all is not always well in the Dortmund defence. "That means, when we win the ball and switch the play determinedly, we will also have our chances against Dortmund. That’s what we’ll be aiming for and that suits the way we play football," insisted the Swiss coach.
The plan now is make the positive developments count in the second half of the season. "We haven’t lost many games, but we’ve not won enough either. We know the very minimum is to double that tally and increasingly turn our performances into wins," commented Schmidt, continuing: "We know we must improve on our precision, tempo and our ultimate conviction. We’ve worked on that and I firmly believe we can have a positive second half to the season." For the re-start against Borussia, the Wolves will have to make do without the services of Ignacio Camacho and Jakub Blaszczykowski, as well as John Anthony Brooks.