Bundesliga football finally returned to the Volkswagen Arena on Saturday after an 84-day absence, as VfL Wolfsburg beat promoted side 1. FC Heidenheim 2-0 – thanks to a Jonas Wind double, and in front of 22,620 fans – to kick-off the 2023/24 campaign.
Starts for new quartet
Head coach Niko Kovac made three changes to his line-up following the DFB Cup success over TuS Makkabi Berlin: Rogerio was suspended after his sending off in Serie A was carried over, while Lukas Nmecha missed out through injury and Jakub Kaminski began on the bench. Ridle Baku, Lovro Majer and Patrick Wimmer all began in their places. Majer was handed a start just days after arriving in Wolfsburg, and he was joined in the side by fellow newcomers Joakim Maehle, Cedric Zesiger and Vaclav Cerny. Captain Maximilian Arnold missed out due to illness.
- 1-0 Wind (6’): What a start! Cerny drives forward down the right into the box and his low cross is too powerful for Heidenheim goalkeeper Kevin Müller to get under control. Wind is in the right place to poke home the opener.
- 2-0 Wind (27’): The Wolves again attack down the right, this time Cerny sending Mattias Svanberg deep behind the defence. The Swede quickly spots Wind and lays the ball square to the forward to finish at the near post.
The coaches’ reaction
Niko Kovac: “In the first half, we not only scored two very good goals but also created another two or three serious chances. After the break, we were a little more passive and that wasn’t what I intended. You never really know exactly where you stand at the end of pre-season, so overall I’m happy with this. This was a performance that we can build on. It wasn’t perfection across the board, but no team will be able to say that after the first match of the season.”
Frank Schmidt: “We’re obviously disappointed. No-one – players or coaches – likes to lose. The first half didn’t go the way we would have liked. We absolutely wanted to make sure we didn’t fall behind early on, and unfortunately we didn’t manage to do that, but that’s also down the quality that Wolfsburg had out on the pitch. I was pleased with the way the lads reacted though, and I was almost completely satisfied with the second half. We did everything we could to get ourselves back into the match, but as you could see, it was being able to take your chances in front of goal that made the difference today.”
Line-ups and stats
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Baku (90‘+1 Paredes), Lacroix, Zesiger, Maehle – Svanberg (87‘ Cozza), Gerhardt, Majer (66‘ Vranckx) – Cerny (66‘ Kaminski), Wind, Wimmer (66. Tomas)
Subs: Pervan (GK), Bornauw, Jenz, Pejcinovic
1. FC Heidenheim: Müller – Busch (32‘ Traore), Mainka, Siersleben, Föhrenbach – Maloney (84. Schimmer) – Dinkci (58’ Dovedan), Beck (46’ Thomalla), Pick – Pieringer (58’ Sessa), Kleindienst
Subs: Eicher (GK), Theuerkauf, Schöppner, Gimber
Goals: 1-0 Wind (6‘), 2-0 Wind (27‘)
Yellow card: Gerhardt, Wimmer, Vranckx / -
Referee: Florian Badstübner (Nuremberg)
Attendance: 22,620 at Volkswagen Arena