In their first game under the guidance of new head-coach Bruno Labbadia, VfL Wolfsburg earned themselves a share of the spoils. The game under floodlights on Friday evening at 1. FSV Mainz 05 ended in a 1-1 (1-1) draw. Josip Brekalo put the Green-Whites in the driving seat early on (6‘), in front of a crowd of 25,173, but shortly before the break, the hosts levelled through Yoshinori Muto (44’). The result sees the Wolves hold their immediate neighbours in the table at a one-point distance.
Bazoer from the outset
In comparison with the side that began in the frustrating home defeat to FC Bayern Munich, the new VfL head-coach opted to make four changes to his starting eleven: William, Josip Brekalo, the convalesced Paul Verhaegh and Riechedly Bazoer, who hadn’t been in front the outset since match-day one, began. Maximilian Arnold was unavailable on the night through suspension (fifth yellow card).
Ideal start through Brekalo
Labbadia had demanded commitment and determination from his Wolves team – and the Green-Whites immediately delivered: A determined move down the left saw William deliver a cross to the centre. Behind Divock Origi, who cleverly held off his opponent, Brekalo initially tripped in attempting to shoot, but was quickly back on his feet to force the ball home – his first goal for VfL (6‘)! The boost from the opening goal was immediately invested by the Green-Whites in creating further good openings: From a corner, the completely unmarked Josuha Guilavogui headed against the crossbar (11‘). Mainz struggled to organise themselves, let alone find a way through a well-drilled VfL defence. The first chance for the hosts fell to Robin Quaison, whose solo run was then ended by Koen Casteels (14’). It was to mark the beginning of a strong Mainz phase. Prior to the break, the Wolves defence found themselves with ever more to do, but other than in dealing with a shot from Danny Latza from a tight angle (25‘) and another attempt from Qaison (43’), Casteels’ goal was rarely threatened. With the break looming, the Wolves then allowed FSV too much space and the hosts duly netted the equaliser: Muto, who had just been introduced as a substitute, fired home on the turn to make it 1-1 (44’).
Wolves closer to a decider
Haing begun with little precaution, both sides became rather more cautious in their approach, as they patiently waited for their opponents to make an error. Mainz initially dominated, but as the half progressed, the Green-Whites strung together a number of dangerous counter-attacks. The best of those was created as the result of a through ball from Brekalo, into the burst forward from Yunus Malli. With only the keeper to beat though, the playmaker slotted his shot just wide of the post on his old stomping ground (63’). The chance clearly had an effect on Sandro Schwarz’s eleven, who withdrew more into defence, with the focus switched to avoiding conceding a second. A combination between William and substitute Admir Mehmedi, set up Daniel Didavi, whose bobbling shot cracked away off the post (84‘). Four minutes later at the other end, Latza almost put the home side in front (88’) and in added-time Anthony Ujah forced an exceptional save from Casteels. Ultimately, having twice hit the frame of the goal, the Wolves, who put in a decent performance on the night, will be frustrated not to have taken more than just one point.
1. FSV Mainz 05: Zentner – Balogun, Bell, Diallo – Donati, Holtmann – S. Serdar (78' De Blasis), Gbamin, Latza – Berggreen (40' Muto), Quaison (87' Ujah)
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Verhaegh, Bruma, Knoche, William – Guilavogui, Bazoer – Brekalo (83' Mehmedi), Didavi, Malli (76' Steffen) – Origi
Goals: 0-1 Brekalo (6'), 1-1 Muto (44')
Yellow cards: - / -
Referee: Bastian Dankert (Rostock)