Since wowing fans of European football with their successful brand of entertaining play and seemingly flawless style, Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund have had a season to forget in 2014/15. While a large portion of the Bundesliga still remains to be decided, as well as the next round of the Champions League, a tournament in which BVB have somehow looked comfortable in, the chances of actually winning the German title are frankly too far off in the distance for the Dortmund faithful this season.
The sale of Robert Lewandowski to title rivals Bayern, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Although the ill-timed departures of other BVB stars, such as Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid, Shinji Kagawa to Manchester United, and of course, Mario Goetze to Bayern Munich again, have certainly not been an easy pill to swallow for Klopp, but it seems that his side just can’t operate in the Bundesliga without their talismanic Polish target man up-top.
In light of such developments, it would seem that Pep Guardiola’s formidable Bayern side will storm to Bundesliga triumph this season, without facing any meaningful competition along the way. A notion like this would only make sense if you discount VfL Wolfsburg however…
Dieter Hecking’s side have proved their worth this campaign, rising up to second in the Bundesliga just eight points off Bayern Munich, while also proving a strong force to contend with in the Europa League. It seems as the season plays out, with Wolfsburg’s stars continuing to build on their already impressive confidence, the plucky title challengers look more and more worthy of their position in the league, and their potential ability to topple Bayern.
In a similar fashion to previous Dortmund’s sides and their ability to get nearly every player in a yellow shirt involved in certain moves, Wolfsburg have also modelled their approach to matches on combined efforts, with a clear emphasis on teamwork. The likes of Ivan Perisic, Kevin De Bruyne and Bas Dost have proved a powerful force to deal with in the attacking areas, with the strong centre-back pairing of Robin Knoche and Naldo maintaining their solidity at the back. Players like Ricardo Rodriguez, the flying full-back of the Swiss national team, act as the go-between for defence and attack, while the recently acquired Luiz Gustavo has taken on the important role of gluing the entire team together.
Ex-Chelsea man and Belgium starlet, Kevin De Bruyne, deserves a special mention however, as with his progress coming on leaps and bounds this season, the 23-year-old attacking midfielder is fast becoming one of the most sought-after players in his position.
There is one aspect of Die Wolfe’s approach that remains very different to that of Borussia Dortmund however. While the signing of Andre Schurrle, incidentally another former Blues man, will surely go a long way in aiding Wolfsburg’s cause this season, the acceptance of his lofty £24million price tag arrives as something that probably would have never taken place at BVB. On their rise to the top, Dortmund took pride in the fact that their team of mostly home-grown stars were sourced without breaking the bank. As the BVB side that reached the Champions League final in 2013 cost less than the corresponding QPR team at the time, Jurgen Klopp had every right to enjoy the profits of his humble spending practises.
Wolfsburg simply haven’t operated in the same way. Recent reports claim that the German outfit have spent over 100 million Euros since the turn of the decade, and as this has prompted several raised eye-brows in the Bundesliga, a FIFA financial investigation is expected to soon come the Wolves’ way.
Putting that aside however, Wolfsburg remain challenging title contenders for Bayern in the same way Dortmund did just a few seasons ago. The two clubs may not share exactly the same philosophies in their approach, but as the recent 4-1 drubbing of Pep Guardiola’s side proves, Wolfsburg will be looking to emulate the successes of Klopp’s determined side, and perhaps even better them in the near future.