Wolfsburg – The Renaissance.
It’s hard to imagine any team other than Bayern Munich winning the title ever thanks to Dortmund’s astonishing season thus far. However, it’s not long ago since Wolfsburg won the Bundesliga – 2009 to be exact.
To be fair, they likely took advantage of what was an understrength Bayern team in a period during which Stuttgart also won the league (2007 – they’re currently bottom) and since then they have only managed one finish in the European places – last season when they finished 5th. In the years between they finished 8th, 15th, 8th and 11th. Not impressive.
This season’s performances, on the other hand, have drawn attention back to Wolfsburg. What has piqued my interest, more specifically, is the form of Bas Dost. Who? You might ask.
Bas Dost! Formerly of Heerenveen in the Eredivisie he signed for Wolfsburg in 2012 having scored 38 goals in 39 appearances. It’s hard to ignore a record like that. However, like a lot of exports from the Eredivisie it seemed that the weak defences of teams in that league had exaggerated his striking prowess:
Afonso Alves – 45 goals in 39 appearances for Heerenveen. The Brazilian scored 10 goals in 42 for Middlesbrough.
Mateja Kezman – 105 goals in 122 appearances for PSV. He could only muster 4 goals in 25 for Chelsea.
Luuk de Jong – 39 goals in 75 for Twente. 6 goals in 36 for Monchengladbach. 0 in 12 for Newcastle.
Need I say more?
In his first two seasons at Wolfsburg, Dost managed 17 goals in 48 appearances – a decent strike rate, but not in any way as clinical as his form at Heerenveen showed. With the creative talent of Diego behind him I had imagined him scoring more.
This season, he has managed 12 goals in 16 appearances.
More impressively he has scored 6 in the last week: a brace against Sporting Lisbon on Thursday, and FOUR against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend. He also managed a brace against Bayern Munich in the first game after the winter break. It appears the Dutchman has found his shooting boots – however dusty they may have been.
Why, all of a sudden, has he managed to start scoring?
Digging a little deeper into Dost’s and Wolfsburg success so far this season I have found that a forgotten Belgian playmaker appears to be the real star of the show – even if Dost is grabbing the headlines.
Kevin De Bruyne – remember him Chelsea fans?
The creative midfielder has an outstanding record this season: 11 goals and 16 assists. That’s more assists than Fabregas and more goals than Eden Hazard. It’s little wonder that Chelsea were linked with a move for their former player in a Matic style turn-around during the January transfer window.
Add to De Bruyne the acquisition of Andre Schurrle and Wolfsburg’s attack has the potential to be one of the most exciting in Europe. The team has scored 13 goals in 4 league matches since the restart after winter.
Currently, sitting 2nd in the Bundesliga – they’re comfortably on track to qualify for the Champions League. 8 points separate them from Borussia Monchengladbach in 3rd and 10 points is the gap to 5th – Augsburg.
Qualification would mean more revenue and the opportunity to invest in more talented players – perhaps even scouting outside of West London. More importantly, it’ll mean they can keep hold of De Bruyne, who will no doubt be the hot property of the summer window.
If Dortmund return to their usual selves, there’s no reason why there may not be an exciting title chase in Germany next season. Watch this space.