Champions League team guide: Wolfsburg in the spotlight
The final weeks of the 2020-21 Bundesliga season saw Wolfsburg, Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt fighting over the final two Champions League spots.
Wolfsburg spent much of that time in third place but a resurgent Dortmund — who were as low as seventh in January — eventually moved above Die Wolfe after defeating them in April.
The side from Lower Saxony claimed fourth place, thanks to an important win against Union Berlin and a vital point away to RB Leipzig.
This, along with Frankfurt’s loss to Schalke, meant their defeat to Mainz on the final weekend did not end their Champions League dream.
Wolfsburg's Champions Leeague group
Group G: Lille, Sevilla, FC Salzburg, Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg made their continental debut in the 1999-00 UEFA Cup and this is just their third appearance in Europe’s premier competition.
Their previous Champions League appearance in 2015-16 was their best ever performance — reaching the quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by eventual winners Real Madrid.
More recently they have appeared in the Europa League and reached the last 16 in 2019-20.
But Wolfsburg did not make it past the qualifying rounds of that competition last season after being knocked out by AEK Athens just before the group stage.
As their European history hints at, qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League would represent a major achievement for Wolfsburg.
With new manager Mark van Bommel at the helm, they may have more of an eye on consolidating their place as one of the Bundesliga’s European regulars.
The draw has been relatively kind to Die Wolfe but dropping down into the Europa League and having a good run in that competition may be the best they can hope for.
Star man: Wout Weghorst
Few powerhouse centre-forwards are as suited to the modern game as Wout Weghorst.
The Dutchman, 29, is a 6ft 6in striker who also happens to be one of the best pressing forwards in Europe.
On top of this, he managed 20 goals in 34 league appearances for Wolfsburg last season and was rewarded with a call-up to the Netherlands squad for this summer’s European Championship.
He scored twice in three games during the Europa League qualifying rounds last season and will now get the chance to showcase his talents in the Champions League for the first time.
One to watch: Maxence Lacroix
At a time when centre-backs are being asked to do more than ever — from being physically dominant to effectively operating as playmakers from the back — few nations are producing as many players in this mould as France.
Maxene Lacroix, 21, is one of a number of impressive young French centre-backs who are making a name for themselves at the highest level of the game.
We have already seen Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate secure big moves this summer, while Jules Kounde is high on the shortlists of many clubs.
Lacroix could be the next in line and there will be plenty more eyes on him this season thanks to Wolfsburg’s participation in the Champions League.
The boss: Mark van Bommel
Wolfsburg will be without the manager who took them into the Champions League this season, Oliver Glasner.
Ironically, Glasner has moved to Eintracht Frankfurt — the team who Wolfsburg pipped to a top-four place,
The Austrian has been replaced by Van Bommel, whose only previous experience in club football management was an 18-month spell with PSV Eindhoven.
He managed the Rood-witten in the 2018-19 Champions League and the 2019-20 Europa League, where they were knocked out in the group stages on both occasions — failing to win a single game in their campaign in Europe's premier tournament.
The Dutchman has since had a spell as assistant coach to his father-in-law Bert van Marwijk at the United Arab Emirates national team but now has another chance to make his name in club football management.
All information correct as of 10am, September 10, 2021