Exclusive: VfL Wolfsburg and Croatia star Josip Brekalo on Die Wölfe’s positive Bundesliga start, talks UEFA Europa League

Oliver Glasner’s VfL Wolfsburg currently stands second in the Bundesliga after eight games. Die Wölfe, who have secured 16 points, as many points as current Bundesliga leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach, presently trail on goal difference (six) compared to Die Fohlen (eight).

Vfl Wolfsburg, however, remains undefeated in the 2019/2020 campain throughout all domestic competitions, whilst also remaining unbeaten in the UEFA Europa League group this term.

VfL Wolfsburg presently leads Group I in the UEFA Europa League this season courtesy of earning four points from their opening two UEFA Europa League encounters. VfL Wolfsburg defeated Oleksandriya 3-1 at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg on September 19 in their opening 2019/2020 UEFA Europa League match. Furthermore, VfL Wolfsburg’s second UEFA Europa League match of the season resulted in a 1-1 draw against AS Saint-Étienne at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

VfL Wolfsburg meanwhile now faces Belgian side KAA Gent this Thursday evening at the Ghelamco Arena. The remaining 2019/2020 UEFA Europa League group tasks for VfL Wolfsburg after this Thursday’s pivotal match with KAA Gent are against: KAA Gent (November 7), Oleksandriya (Away – November 28) and AS Saint-Étienne (December 12).

VfL Wolfsburg, who finished sixth in the Bundesliga last season, have kept two clean sheets this season, coupled alongside never conceding more than one goal in a game throughout all competitions this term. VfL Wolfsburg this season are competing in a European competition (UEFA Europa League) for the first-time since Die Wölfe reached the Quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in the 2015/2016 season before being eliminated 3-2 on aggregate by Real Madrid.

VfL Wolfsburg’s next seven Bundesliga fixtures are against: FC Augsburg (Home – October 27), Borussia Dortmund (Away – November 2), Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Home – November 10), Eintracht Frankfurt (Away – November 23), SV Werder Bremen (Home – December 1), SC Freiburg (Away – December 7) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (Home – December 15).

Prior to VfL Wolfsburg’s 1-1 draw against RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena on October 19, FOX Sports Radio 96.9 FM/1340AM’s Dean Perretta briefly caught up with VfL Wolfsburg and Croatia star, Josip Brekalo, 21, to discuss with the Croatian sensation about the positive early season form of Die Wölfe, coupled alongside touching on his thoughts on Vfl Wolfsburg’s tactics and system under Glasner.

 

Dean Perretta: Josip, can you talk about VfL Wolfsburg’s positive start to the season so far in the Bundesliga and, of course, the competitiveness and thirst for securing European action again next season?

Josip Brekalo: We are very satisfied with our start to the Bundesliga season. We are still unbeaten in all three competitions, Bundesliga, Europa League and DFB-Pokal, and have played very well throughout this time. If we can play on like this, we all believe we can finish this season very successfully.

Dean Perretta: Can you touch on Oliver Glasner and the influence which he has had on you as a professional since his arrival in Lower Saxony this past summer?

Josip Brekalo: Oliver Glasner is a very good coach. I have already learnt a lot from him and so has the team. He helped me to improve my individual game as well as my play with the team and I think you can see this on the pitch. As a team we are still on a way, but if we follow this way, we can still get better and better.

Dean Perretta: Which particular areas do you feel VfL Wolfsburg have improved most this season compared to the previous campaign?

Josip Brekalo: I think the most improved part of our game is our defense. We’ve only conceded four goals this Bundesliga season, which is the lowest of all teams (in the Bundesliga). There is still some room for improvement but we tried to keep the good thing from last season and improve them within our new system. We still have to work on the details, but we head in the right direction.

Dean Perretta: With regards to performances this season, how would you describe the manner and confidence of Die Wölfe playing periodically playing without the ball when under pressure, as well as the art of intense high pressing from the frontline under Glasner?

Josip Brekalo: In our new system we always try to put pressure on the opponent. With high pressing we can create fast and good goal scoring chances and that’s what we like as players. Our goal is to put pressure on our opponent in every moment of the game. That’s not easy, but we work on this and will only get better over the season.

Dean Perretta: Lastly, in this moment, can you talk about VfL Wolfsburg’s movement on and off the ball in transitional play when switching from defense to attack and vice versa?

Josip Brekalo: I think we already showed, that when we get the ball, we can switch from defense to attack really fast. This way we already scored some goals and created a lot of chances. In some situations we still have to execute better from winning the ball to getting in scoring situations. This fast switching play is our idea of playing in this system and we really like it.

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Dean Perretta

Dean Perretta is a 2x SEA Award-winning creative, Broadcast Journalist, Reporter, Courtside Analyst for BBC televised London Lions and Executive Producer who currently contributes to FOX Sports Radio, FourFourTwo Magazine and Muscle & Fitness Magazine.