New signing Jerome Roussillon was one of four changes to the team that beat Ajax 3-0 in a behind-closed-doors friendly last Friday, with goalkeeper Koen Casteels, William and Renato Steffen also coming into the side. Neither goalkeeper had much to do in an even opening to the contest, but Napoli custodian Orestis Karnezis had to be on his toes to deny Wout Weghorst with a low stop just before the half-hour mark. Yannick Gerhard volleyed Roussillon’s left-wing cross over the bar soon afterwards, before Josip Brekalo’s composed finish from Steffen’s through-ball (43’) put the Wolves’ noses in front at the interval.
Last season’s Serie A runners-up showed greater intent after the break and went close to restoring parity through Belgium international Dries Mertens, who curled a low shot just past the post 12 minutes into the second half. Casteels produced a superb fingertip save to deny Arkadiusz Milik as the visitors upped the ante, but the VfL stopper was powerless to prevent the former Bayer Leverkusen and Augsburg man from levelling the scores with a powerful header (69’). The Wolves responded brilliantly, however, Admir Mehmedi firing Daniel Ginczek’s pin-point cross past Karnezis just two minutes after Milik’s equaliser, before the Switzerland international completed the scoring with another close-range finish (74’).
"We were well organised"
VfL head coach Bruno Labbadia: "We're obviously pleased with the result. We were well organised and brave in our build-up play. If you leave spaces for Napoli they're very strong - you saw that at times today - but we kept our shape brilliantly and did very well. After we lost our grip on the game in the first half and we told them we needed to increase the tempo in attack, we made it 1-0. Scoring so close to half-time was very good. We then conceded a sloppy goal. The build-up and manner of the goal wasn't ideal, but we responded very well. It's really good that Daniel Ginczek and Admir Mehmedi - two players who came off the bench - were involved [in the two goals]. We just need to keep pushing ourselves and ensure this type of performance becomes second nature."
The Green-Whites’ first competitive fixture of the new campaign is against SV Elversberg in the first round of the DFB Cup next Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CEST).
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels - William (Verhaegh 81’), Knoche (Bruma 81’), Brooks, Roussillon - Arnold (Rexhbecaj 72’), Guilavogui (Uduokhai 60’), Gerhardt - Steffen (Blaszczykowski 72’), Brekalo (Mehmedi 60’) - Weghorst (Ginczek 46’)
SSC Napoli: Karnezis - Hysaj (Malcuit 46’), Koulibaly (Maksimovic 75’), Raul Albiol (Chiriches 75’), Mario Rui (Luperto 75’) - Fabian (Rog 62’), Hamsik (Diawara 62’), Zielinski (Allan 46’) - José Callejon (Mertens 46’), Insigne (Verdi 46’) - Milik (Ounas 75’)
Goals: 1-0 Brekalo (43’), 1-1 Milik (69’), 2-1 Mehmedi (71’), 3-1 Mehmedi (74’)