Wolfsburg’s recent woes on the field have coincided with those of Volkswagen, the German club’s main backer. The car manufacturer is on the rise again after its emissions scandal, and so is the soccer team after back-to-back seasons in the relegation playoffs.
Wolfsburg finished second behind Bayern Munich and won the German Cup before the breaking of the Volkswagen scandal. The win over Leverkusen was unexpected, and the first time in 13 tries that Labbadia won against his former side.
Wolfsburg also needed a bit of luck to defeat Schalke, with Daniel Ginczek getting the winner in injury time. Wolfsburg even had to come from behind after Leon Bailey put Leverkusen ahead. The players didn’t panic, but combined well and fought for the equalizer, which came through an own-goal by goalkeeper Ramazan Ozcan.
Wolfsburg also appointed Joerg Schmadtke as sporting director in the offseason. The 54-year-old Schmadtke, a former goalkeeper, enjoyed notable success as sporting director with Cologne, Hannover and Alemannia Aachen. Wolfsburg was without injured captain Josuha Guilavogui, and goalkeeper Koen Casteels was missing to attend the birth of his daughter.
Bayerns advice: Spanish defender Juan Bernat departed for Paris Saint-Germain but it looked at one stage as though there would be more business between the sides. PSG made a reported offer for Germany defender Jerome Boateng and was also interested in taking Sanches. Neither deal came to fruition, and Bayern has hit out at the French club for not following through.