Bundesliga Previews: Wolfsburg

WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 11: Head coach Felix Magath of Wolfsburg gestures during the Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and FC Schalke 04 at Volkswagen Arena on September 11, 2011 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Felix Magath has thirty five players in his first team this season. Can he figure out how to play them all into a winning side?

Team: VfL Wolfsburg

Manager: Felix Magath

Key Additions: Ivica Olic, Vaclav Pilar, Bas Dost, Emanuel Pogatetz, Naldo

Key Losses: Thomas Hitzlsperger, Hasan Salihamidzic, Mario Mandzukic

2011-2012 Finish: Bundesliga 8th

2012-2013 Prediction: Steve McClaren was appointed the manager of Wolfsburg in the summer of 2010. Boy, that was a disaster. McClaren was sacked, and Felix Magath was appointed the save them from relegation. It was neither pretty nor easy, but Magath led them to safety. All it took was a win on the final matchday to guarantee their survival. Last season wasn't the most brilliant of times for Wolfsburg. They hung around just north of the relegation zone for the first half of the season while the club "bled in" new players. They spent the majority of the latter half of the season at comfortably at midtable before finishing in 8th. Going from 15th to 8th in the table in one season is very impressive.

Once the transfer window opened, Magath went to his standard practice of stockpiling as many players as he possibly can. The Wolfsburg website says there are 35 players in the first team. Seriously. Magath likes options. They brought in Naldo and Emanuel Pogatetz for some veteran leadership and depth on the backline. Magath also brought in Ivica Olic, Bas Dost, and Vaclav Pilar to compete for playing time up top. There's no excuse for Wolfsburg not to score any goals this season. Magath was also prepared to let some players leave. Thomas Hitzlsperger, Hasan Salihamidzic, and Tuncay Sanli were all released from their contracts with the club. Mario Mandzukic was sold to Bayern Munich./

The man to watch this season for Wolfsburg is Diego Ribas da Cunha better known simply as Diego. The Brazilian playmaker spent all of last season on loan with Atletico Madrid after a near-disastrous falling out with Magath during the last game of the 2010-11 season. After finding out he was not starting the match, Diego left the team hotel and refused to join them for the match. Luckily, Wolfsburg won the match, but Magath fined him €500,000 and told him he had no future with the club. Well, he's back, and the club and player seem determined to make this relationship work. Diego spent three very productive seasons with Werder Bremen scoring 54 goals in 132 matches in all competitions. He played very well last season in Madrid and could very well help bring Wolfsburg back to European competition with a good year for Die Wölfe.

I really like this Wolfsburg team. They have talent, and they have depth. My only concern is how they stack up defensively against some of the elite Bundesliga sides. With the number of players that Magath has in the squad, every player will have to perform or risk falling out of favor quickly. Magath is an excellent manager and almost always gets everything out of his team. Wolfsburg are going to crack the top five this season and finish 5th. They'll finally qualify for Europe again and compete in next year's Europa League.

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