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Managing My Way To Success In European Football


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Paolo Retires - Seeks Managerial Position

May 31, 2009 - Rome, Italy

Just hours after AS Roma's final fixture of the 2008-2009 Serie A season, a 3-2 win over Torino, veteran American striker Paul B. (or Paolo as he became known in Italy) sat in front of his locker and told the assembled media that he had decided to retire from professional football. "It was a tough decision" said the 43 year old star who has spent his entire professional career playing for Roma. He went on to say that as much as he relished the chance to play football every season for Roma, he is just as excited for the chance to manage a professional team. "I know it won't be easy and I don't expect to get hired by a big club right away, but I'm hoping to have a career as a manager that's as successful if not more then my career as a player" said Paolo.

Paolo enrolled in Roma's youth academy at just 15 years old in 1980 and made his debut for Roma just 18 months later. He scored his first ever professional goal in his 3rd game and went on to score 175 goals in his 20 season career with the Giallorossi. He has served as an associate captain for the team since 1994.

With the European club season coming to an end it's a safe bet that many teams will be in the market for a new manager. Spanish side Valladolid were rumored to be interested in Paolo if he wanted to manage in Spain, but it seems clear that his heart lies in Italy. One Sky Sports News reporter asked Paolo if he had a preference of where he wanted to manage? "Italy is certainly at the top of my list, but Germany, France, or Holland would also be interesting destinations" responded Paolo "but it really just depends on what teams are interested in my services?"

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Obviously I'm starting this managerial career save as an unemployed manager. Once I land with a team I'll start posting regular updates. Thanks for reading.

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Paolo Takes Over Wolfsburg Helm

November 27, 2009 - Wolfsburg, Germany

Recently retired Roma star Paolo has been hired as the new manager at VfL Wolfsburg of the German Bundesliga. The move has raised a few eyebrows across Europe, especially in Germany, because of Paolo's lack of experience, the language barrier, and his expected interest in managing in Italy.

Sky Sports: Was it a difficult decision to leave Italy to take a job in Germany?

Paolo: It's always hard to pick up and move, especially when you have a family. But I'm excited about the challenge of guiding Wolfsburg to success.

Sky Sports: It's been noted that you don't speak German. Will that be a problem?

Paolo: It certainly adds an extra challenge at the beginning, especially since it's a tough language to learn. But there are a lot of players and staff who speak English and some even speak Italian so I'm confident I'll be able to get my points across to the team. Plus I've already enrolled in some German classes as the local university. I'll just have to find time to take them.

Sky Sports: Wolfsburg won the Bundesliga last season but so far this year they're mired in the middle of the table. How are you going to turn things around and get the team back to the top of the table? Or is that even possible this season?

Paolo: Yes, the team has struggled. We find ourselves in 12th with only 14 points and we're a full 17 points behind Leverkusen. It'll be tough to rebound quickly but I have some ideas on ways we can improve and I'll be working on those right away.

Sky Sports: Can you elaborate on those ideas?

Paolo: Well the team certainly seems to have concentrated on offense so far this year, and with a player like Edin Dzeko that's certainly not a surprise. But they've given up way too many goals and I'll be looking to shore up the back line in the next transfer window.

Sky Sports: A defensive game plan from an offensive star like you? How much do you know about playing defense?

Paolo: Admittedly not a lot, but you have to address the needs of the team. So I'll be looking to bring in some strong defensive coaches as quickly as possible.

Sky Sports: So there will be some turnover in the back room?

Paolo: Absolutely. I've already begun the process of changing the philosophy of this team and it begins in the back room.

Sky Sports: Will there also be changes to the personnel on the pitch?

Paolo: Well, almost all of the current players are locked into multi year deals. I certainly have some players in mind that I intend to keep, and I know of a few I wouldn't mind moving out in favor of new talent. Starting with tomorrow's match against HSV we'll start evaluating the talent on the team and identifying possible areas that need improvement.

Sky Sports: Do you know what kind of transfer budget you'll have? The next window opens in just over a month.

Paolo: Not exactly. I still have to sit down with management and hammer out those details. But I know it won't be a huge budget as we're not a huge team. We may even have to sell some players to accumulate the funds we'll need to bring in the players that can help us turn things around.

Sky Sports: Well it sounds like it's going to be a time of change at Volkswagen-Arena. Good luck.

Paolo: Thanks.

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Beyond the interview style dialog that you see so far I'll also be posting game by game recaps. I'll also try to post preseason previews and midseason and end of season reviews.

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Paolo's Managerial Debut A Winning One

November 28, 2009 - Volkswagen-Arena

Wolfsburg 2-0 HSV

Misimovic 6'

Ziani 53'

Sky Sports: Your team got a nice win in your debut as a manager. How do you rate their performance?

Paolo: Well, we might have won on the scoreboard but I think we have a lot of room to improve.

Sky Sports: Zvjezdan Mismovic started his first game of the season, something he'd been wanting to do all year, and he didn't disappoint by scoring that early goal. Is this a sign that Mismovic will play more?

Paolo: I like Zvjezdan's creativity with the ball. I'm not going to say he's absolutely the starter but today showed that he has potential.

Sky Sports: You played with an unconventional formation with just 3 central defenders and a defensive midfielder, but you played a defensive style. Is this how you'll play every night?

Paolo: Probably not. With so little time to prepare for this match I decided to just put everyone at the positions they were best at. Thankfully it worked out for us.

Sky Sports: In the second half you benched Edin Dzeko and Diego Benaglio. What message were you trying to send?

Paolo: It wasn't as much about sending messages as it was about getting a look at players. But I do want the team to know that you have to earn your spot on the pitch.

Sky Sports: With the win you climbed up to 11th in the table. Two of your next 3 Bundesliga matches are against teams ahead of you. Are they "must win"?

Paolo: Losing would certainly hurt our chances.

Sky Sports: You now have 6 days till your next match in Franfurt. What will be your focus this week?

Paolo: We have 3 priorities this week. Hiring staff. Developing a winning formation and tactic on the pitch. And beginning to examine the transfer market. The staffing goal we should be able to finish quickly as we already have offers out to multiple people. The other two goals will be works in progress.

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Next update after the Franfurt game. At that time I'll review all the staff changes.

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Frankfurt Edge Wolfsburg In Tight Clash

December 4, 2009 - Commerzbank Arena

Frankfurt 2-1 Wolfsburg

Amanatidis (34', 59') - Josue (PEN 63')

Sky Sports: This was a penalty filled game with no less then 25 fouls, 3 yellow cards, and 3 penalties attempted. Were you expecting such a physical match?

Paolo: It was certainly chippy. Frankfurt has a bigger more physical team then we do so I can't say I was surprised.

Sky Sports: You switched tactics again, this time to a 4-3-1-2. Will we see different tactics on a regular basis or have you settled on something here?

Paolo: Coming from Italy I'm certainly used to playing "Italian style" football. This was a tactic I played in for quite a while at Roma and while our personnel don't fit it perfectly I feel we're good enough to succeed with it. We just need more practice in it.

Sky Sports: Speaking of personnel nothing has been announced yet but rumor has it you've made your first moves in the upcoming transfer market?

Paolo: I can confirm 4 transactions as of tonight. First off we've seen attacking midfielder Christian Gentner sign a deal to move to Suttgart next summer. This deal was already in place when I got here. Defender Peter Pekarik will be joining Athletico Madrid in January, netting us 7.25M Euros. We've also begun strengthening our wings. We've purchased the rights to 17 year old DL Benedetto Monforte from Palermo for 1.1M Euros. And finally while it's not been posted officially yet I can confirm that we've reached agreement to acquire 21 year old DL Guilherme from Almeria for 3.6M Euros. We're just waiting on some financial details to get ironed out. I do have other irons in the fire, but nothing is set in stone yet so I can't comment on those deals.

Sky Sports: There was also a lot of changes in the back room correct?

Paolo: That's right. Here's a list:

OUT:

Lorenz-Gunther Kostner

Egil Eliassen

Gunter Pfieler

Jorg Drill

Lars Mrosko

Uli Mohr

Stefan Meissner

Jens Todt

Holger Ballwanz

Gunter Kern

Andreas Hilfiker

IN:

Giorgos Georgiadis

Oliver Reck

Rudi Wojtowicz

Fernando Clavijo

Oliver Bierhoff

Thorsten Legat

Sebastian Peschel

Horst-Dieter Hottges

Graad Xhofleer

Igor Lazic

Abderrahim Quakili

Rainer Beyer

Gerrie Schaap

Ali Wohlfarth

Matthias Bender

Erik Lukin

Sky Sports: Will there be any further movement in the back room staff?

Paolo: No, I think we're set for now. We have the defensive coaching that we really needed here.

Sky Sports: You're 2 points behind AC Milan and Porto in your Champions League group with your final group game next week hosting Milan. What do you think your chances are of making it out of the group?

Paolo: Milan is an excellent side as I know from experience. It's going to take our best effort to beat them. But if we're going to make the knockout rounds we have to win. A draw or a loss won't help us.

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Wolfsburg's Draw With AC Milan Not Enough

December 8, 2009 - Volkswagen Arena

Champions League Group Stage Final Game

Wolfsburg 2-2 AC Milan

Martins (11', 89') - Pato (16', 42')

Sky Sports: Obafemi Martins' late equalizer gave you a well earned draw against AC Milan but it wasn't enough to earn a ticket out of the group stage. Discuss the team's performance.

Paolo: Well we dominated possession and were successful both in our passing and our crossing, but crucial mistakes allowed Milan to stay in the game. If it weren't for Martins' second goal they would have beaten us, but in reality we beat ourselves.

Sky Sports: I assume the biggest mistake was GK Diego Benaglio trying to challenge Pato at the top of the box in the 42nd minute?

Paolo: Games are won and lost by the team as a whole, and no single mistake can be blamed. Seeing Pato head the ball over Benaglio's head was disappointing but we had plenty of time to come back in the game.

Sky Sports: What positives can you take from this game?

Paolo: Well besides Obafemi's great performance I suppose the best thing I can say is that we won't have as much fixture congestion now that we've been knocked out of the Champions League. But we'd rather be playing on.

Sky Sports: Any other news from the transfer market?

Paolo: Yes, a little more. Defender Marcel Schafer will be moving to Valencia in January. That deal was worth 9M Euros for us and we now have a pretty substantial transfer budget for January. It's fair to say more moves will probably be made.

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Wolfsburg Batters Freiburg 4-1

December 13, 2009 - Volkswagen Arena

Josue scored on 2 penalty kicks and Obafemi Martins added 2 goals on great plays in front of the Freiburg net to lead Wolfsburg to a convincing 4-1 win at home over Freiburg. Mohamadou Idrissou, who committed both fouls that led to the first half penalty kicks, redeemed himself a bit with a goal of his own in the 90th minute to spoil Diego Benaglio's clean sheet. With the win Wolfsburg moved up to 12th in the Bundesliga table just 3 points out of 6th. Their last match of 2009 will be on Friday at home against Koln.

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Wolfsburg To Take On Galatasaray In Europa Legue

December 18, 2009

After failing to make it out of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League defending Bundesliga title holders Wolfsburg were dropped into the UEFA Europa League. The draw for the first knockout round took place today and Wolfsburg drew Turkish power Galatasaray beginning with the first leg on February 17, 2010 at Volkswagen Arena. The second leg will take place February 24, 2010 at Ali Sami Yen in Istanbul. "We're looking forward to the challenge" said new Wolfsburg boss Paolo, "Galatasaray are a great team. We'll have our work cut out for us." Should they defeat Galatasaray Wolfsburg will take on the winner of Anderlecht vs. Atletico Madrid in the 2nd knockout round.

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Dzeko Scores, Wolfsburg Wins Again

December 18, 2009 - Wolfsburg Arena

Edin Dzeko's 13th goal of the year broke a 6 game goal drought and led Wolfsburg to a 1-0 win over Koln. It was the 6th clean sheet of the season for Diego Benaglio. The win catapulted Wolfsburg into a 2 way tie for 6th in the Bundesliga table with Koln. The Bundesliga now takes it's winter break with the next league matches taking place on January 15th, 2010. During the break Wolfsburg has scheduled friendlies with Babelsberg, Oberhausen, Offenbach, and VFC Plauen. The next Bundesliga match for Wolfsburg will be on January 16, 2010 at Leverkusen who currently sit atop the Bundesliga table with 36 points, 13 points ahead of Wolfsburg.

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Building A Team Around A Tactic

January 10, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

Wolfsburg made news across the football world this week with 2 new additions to the team. First they acquired on loan 18 year old Scottish striker John Fleck from Rangers for 400k Euros, with an option to buy for another 3.5M Euros. "John will fit nicely with this team and should see a regular rotation up front with Obafemi Martins" said Wolfsburg manager Paolo.

Then the team signed perhaps the most important player in recent years to come to Wolfsburg, Argentinian midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme for 5.75M Euros from Boca. Riquelme, who was nearing the end of his contract with Boca, was expected to be a hot commodity on the transfer market next summer, so getting him under a long term deal at Wolfsburg in January is a real coup for the team. Most experts believe Riquelme was acquired to be the anchor at the central midfield position, despite being a natural attacking midfielder. But recent unrest from current starting AMC Zvjezden Misimovic, who missed his 2nd practice in 2 months, has opened the possibility of Riquelme filling his natural role instead.

Anonymous reports from inside the Wolfsburg offices suggest that Misimovic was fined for his absence and could be shopped for a quick transfer if his attitude doesn't improve.

Paolo was asked if he has completed his transfers for this window and responded "it's possible but situations are fluid right now. We'll see."

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Fleck Scores In Debut, Wolfsburg 1 Levurkusen 1

January 16, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

18 year old John Fleck made quite a splash in his debut for Wolfsburg, scoring a highlight film goal at the 37 minute mark to help Wolfsburg earn a 1-1 draw with league leaders Levurkusen. Fleck took a through ball from Zvjezden Misimovic while running up the left side of the pitch, beat his man as he entered the area, and buried the ball in the short corner between the post and GK Rene Adler to give Wolfsburg the lead. "It was a great goal and should give the kid and the team a lot of confidence" said Wolfsburg manager Paolo. "We know we're as good as that team and this proved it".

Also putting in good efforts in their debut were Juan Roman Riquelme, Benedetto Monforte, and Guilherme.

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Wolfsburg Acquire Borowski

January 17, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

Wolfsburg announced this morning that they've made another purchase in the January transfer market, acquiring midfielder Tim Borowski from Werder Bremen. The 29 year old Borowski has almost completed his recovery from a torn groin suffered last season and has not played a game yet this year. Wolfsburg manager Paolo stated that he didn't think Borowski would be ready for Wolfsburg's next match in just 2 days time at Schalke, but a return next week against Dortmund is a good bet. Borowski is entering his 13th Bundesliga season and his 16th professional season overall. He played his entire career, save for 1 season at Bayern Munich, for Werder Bremen. He's scored 32 goals in his senior career.

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Wolfsburg Embarrassed By Schalke 5-1!

January 19, 2010 - Veltins Arena

Schalke 5-1 Wolfsburg

Bordon (38)

Farfan (58)

Rakitic (61) - Fleck (26)

Garanovic (86)

Baumjohann (90+1)

John Fleck scored his 2nd goal for Wolfsburg at the 26 minute mark and the two teams were tied at halftime. Wolfsburg was playing well and they appeared well on their way to at least earning a point. But Schalke scored twice in 3 minutes early in the 2nd half, then added 2 more goals in 5 minutes as the game drew to a close and send Wolfburg home with their heads hung. "I don't know what happened" said Wolfsburg manager Paolo. "You give them their props because they out played us, but the result is unacceptable for our fans and our team. After the first half we seemed to be in control, but it all fell apart in the 2nd half. Nobody played well."

The loss drops Wolfsburg to 12th in the Bundesliga table with 24 points, 3 points behind Schalke who moved up to 7th. Wolfsburg's next match is at home against Dortmund who are 3rd in the league with 37 points. "It'll be a tough test and now we've made it even tougher on ourselves" said Paolo. "If we don't regain our focus and dominate the fundamentals Dortmund will do to us what Schalke did."

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Dzeko & Benaglio Benched, Wolfsburg & Dortmund Draw

January 23, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

Wolfsburg 1-1 Dortmund

Grafite (1') - Barzagli (own goal) (66')

Sky Sports: All the buzz going into tonight's match was about Diego Benaglio & Edin Dzeko being spotted in street clothes in the stands. Were they injured or was a message being sent?

Paolo: It was definitely a message. I wanted the team to know that nobody is guaranteed a starting spot on this team. It wasn't as much about how Edin and Diego played against Schalke as it was about they being 2 of the biggest stars on the team. I wanted the other guys on the roster to keep in their minds that if those guys can be benched anyone can.

Sky Sports: Do you think the team responded positively to your message?

Paolo: It appears they have, but we'll have to see. It was certainly a better performance tonight but that's to be expected given how we played against Schalke. But that doesn't mean we can't play better. Time will tell.

Sky Sports: Borussia Dortmund are a tough team to play against. They hadn't conceded a goal in 6 games before tonight. Do you feel the team was content with the draw or do they feel like they should have won?

Paolo: Grafite's early goal certainly gave us confidence. I still dispute the own goal. It came off a free kick from 30 yards out and I didn't see Andrea touch the ball, but that was the call the refs made. Overall it was up and down for us. Despite the early lead Dortmund really took it to us for most of the first half. But as we got into the second half we seemed to get our legs under us. Then came the own goal and Dortmund seemed to regain control of the game. Anytime you get a point against a quality team it's a good thing, but I think we might have let 2 points get away.

Sky Sports: How's it looking in the transfer market? Are you done for the January window or will there be more moves coming?

Paolo: I'm working on one more move, but that should be it for this window. If we make any more moves between now and the end of the season it'll be to bring players in next August.

With the draw Wolfsburg moved up to 11th in the table with 25 points. They now have a week off before traveling to 16th place Bochum next Saturday.

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Wolves Bolster Back Line

January 30, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

As the January transfer window draws to a close Wolfsburg manager Paolo added one more piece to the puzzle, acquiring 20 year old central defender Omer Toprak from Freiburg. The 4.9M Euro purchase was described by Paolo as "a move to help us now and in the future. Omer plays the kind of shut down defense this team needs and he's only going to get better." Toprak, who had only appeared in 3 games this season for Freiburg, stated that he couldn't wait to get a chance to play. "I don't expect to play right away but I hope I can prove that I deserve a regular spot on the team" said Freiburg.

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Wolfsburg Dominates Bochum 2-0

January 30, 2010 - rewirpowerSTADION

Bochum 0-2 Wolfsburg

- Martins (61'), Rotan (85')

Obafemi Martins returned from the African Nations Cup and contributed to a solid Wolves win by scoring on a breakaway in the 61st minute. Ruslan Rotan came off the bench to add an insurance goal at the 85th minute. It was the most dominating performance for Wolfsburg since new manager Paolo arrived. "We certainly played well tonight. We did pretty much whatever we wanted on the pitch" said Paolo. Newly acquired central defender Omer Toprak made his debut for Wolfsburg and played the whole match. The win moves Wolfsburg back into the top half of the table into 8th place in the Bundesliga.

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Wolfsburg Cruises To Win Over Mainz 2-0

February 5, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

Dzeko (5')

Riquelme (pen 88')

Wolfsburg got off to an early lead when Edin Dzeko scored in the 5th minute on a rebound of a shot by Juan Roman Riquelme. Then in the 88th minute Riquelme scored his first ever goal for Wolfsburg on a penalty shot after Thomas Kahlenberg was taken down in the penalty area by Mainz. The win moves Wolfsburg up to 7th in the Bundesliga table while Mainz remains in 18th. The wolves next take on 10th place Hoffenheim in one week's time.

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Hoffenheim Ease Past Wolfsburg 1-0

February 13, 2010 - Dietmar-Hopp Stadion

Hoffenheim 1-0 Wolfsburg

Eduardo (45+1')

Carlos Eduardo's goal in stoppage time in the first half proved to be enough as Hoffenheim beat Wolfsburg 1-0. New Wolfsburg manager Paolo said "we seemed to be in control early on but they made adjustments. Then after they scored we seemed to lose focus. It wasn't our worst performance, but it wasn't our best either." The loss drops the Wolves to 10th in the Bundesliga with 11 games left to play. They're currently 6 points out of a European qualification spot. Next up for Wolfsburg is the 1st leg of the 1st knockout round of the Europa League against Galatasaray at Volkswagen Arena.

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Wolfsburg Beats Galatasaray 2-1 In Europa League

February 17, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

Wolfsburg 2-1 Galatasaray

Dzeko (3'), Grafite (pen 34') - Kewell (10')

Grafite's goal on a penalty kick in the 34th minute gave Wolfsburg it's 2-1 margin of victory in it's Europa League match against Turkey's Galatasaray. It was the first leg of the first knockout round of the Europa League and Wolfsburg finds themselves playing in this position due to it's third place finish in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Edin Dzeko opened the scoring with his 15th goal of the season at the 3 minute mark. "It's nice to get out to an early lead and it was a fun game for all" said Wolfsburg manager Paolo. The second leg takes place next week in Istanbul.

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Wolfsburg Shuts Out Werder Bremen 2-0

February 20, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

Wolfsburg 2-0 Werder Bremen

Dzeko (83'), Borowski (85')

Edin Dzeko's 70th career goal as a pro broke a scoreless tie in the 83rd minute. Then Tim Borowski picked up his first career goal for Wolfsburg and man of the match honors to give the Wolves an insurance goal as Wolfsburg recorded a clean sheet over Werder Bremen. It was the 9th clean sheet of the season for Diego Benaglio. Wolfsburg is 10th in the Bundesliga table with 34 points and 10 matches left to play in the season. Their next league game will be next week at 13th place Numberg, but before then they will complete their 2nd leg in the Europa League at Galatasaray.

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Wolfsburg Cruise Into Europa League 2nd Knockout Round

February 24, 2010 - Ali Sami Yen, Istanbul

Galatasaray 0-2 Wolfsburg

Riquelme (28'), Pavlovich (69')

Juan Roman Riquelme's 2nd goal for Wolfsburg gave them a commanding aggregate lead over Galatasaray, and Nicolas Pavlovich's insurance goal sealed the Lions fate as Wolfsburg recorded a 4-1 aggregate win. Wolfsburg advance to the Europa League 2nd knockout round where they'll face Spain's Athletico Madrid who recorded a dominating 5-0 win over Belgian side Anderlecht. Newly acquired Omer Toprak returned from injury to pick up man of the match honors.

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Nürnberg Outruns Wolfsburg 1-0

February 27, 2010 - easyCredit Stadion, Nürnberg

Nürnberg 1-0 Wolfsburg

Charistaes (4')

Angelos Charistaes scored in the 4th minute and FC Nürnberg made the goal stand up as they out ran the Wolves. When asked if Wolfsburg were suffering from a continental hangover, having just played 3 days earlier in the Europa league, Wolves manager Paolo responded "I don't think so. We controlled the game when we had the ball. But when they got the ball they ran right past us. I'm sure our guys were tired from the match the other night but if fatigue is that big an issue perhaps they need to improve their fitness. Chasing trophies requires a lot of effort".

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Wolfsburg Takes Advantage Of Red Card To Beat Bayern Munich

March 6, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

Wolfsburg 3-2 FC Bayern

Martins (24'), Ziani (50', 60') - Müller (21', 66')

Bayern Munich only have themselves, and Alberto Lopo to blame for losing today at Wolfsburg. After getting off to a 1-0 lead on Thomas Müller's first goal of the game it appeared to be Bayern's game to win. But when Lopo was sent off in the 36th minute with the game tied at 1-1 it exposed Münich's central midfield and Wolfsburg took advantage. Seldom used midfielder Karim Ziani was brought on at halftime for attacking midfielder Zvjezdan Misimovic and he took full advantage of his opportunity, scoring goals at the 50 minute and 60 minute marks. "The red card certainly opened things up for us" said Wolfsburg manager Paolo, "Our strength is through the middle anyway and when you take away one of their midfielders it only exposes them to stronger attacks and we took advantage." When asked if Ziani would see more time on the pitch after this performance Paolo responded "he certainly gave us a spark and we will try to utilize his skills more in the future." Misimovic is just returning from an injury and is probably not in match shape yet so Paolo has only been playing him half games so far.

The win is a big one over the top team in the table. "We're probably out of it for the league title with only 8 more games to go, but we still have a shot at qualifying for European competition next season and right now that's our goal" said Paolo. Even with the 3 points Wolfsburg still sit 10th in the Bundesliga with 37 points. But they are now just 6 points out of a qualification spot so their chances are good. However a few teams in front of them now have a game in hand over Wolfsburg, pending the completion of this week's action.

Wolfsburg's attention must now turn back to the Europa League as they travel to Madrid, Spain to take on powerhouse Athletico Madrid in the first leg of the second knockout round. Athletico Madrid currently sit 3rd in the La Liga table with 48 points. "We certainly have a tough challenge ahead of us" said Paolo, "but we believe we have the quality to at least make the final of the Europa League, so if we're right we should be able to compete with them."

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Athletico Madrid Picks Up Victory Over Wolfsburg

March 10, 2010 - Vicente Calderon, Madrid

Ath. Madrid 2-0 Wolfsburg

Aguero (7'), Lopez (63')

In a game that was very even on the stat sheet Athltico Madrid got a well earned 2-0 victory over Wolfsburg in the first leg of the second knockout round of the Europa League. "We were able to play with them all night but we just couldn't put the ball in the net" said Wolves manager Paolo. When asked about his chances to advance now Paolo responded "It'll certainly make it tough on us to advance to the quarterfinal as we now come home with a 2 goal deficit and no away goals." The second leg will be next Wednesday at Volkswagen Arena.

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Hertha BSC Damage Wolfburg's Ambitions

March 13, 2010 - Olympiastadion, Berlin

Hertha BSC 2-1 Wolfsburg

Gekas (pen 39'), Pejcinovic (88') - Fleck (15')

Theofanis Gekas scored on a penalty kick late in the first half and Nemanja Pejcinovic scored as full time neared as Hertha BSC completed an unlikely comeback to beat Wolfsburg 2-1. The loss severely damages the Wolves hopes of earning qualification for continental football next season. The team remains in 10th in the Bundesliga table, a full 8 points behind 6th place Schalke. "We should have gotten at least a point" said Wolfsburg manager Paolo, "we out played them and the only reason they won is we couldn't put the ball in the net". When one reporter asked Paolo how he expected to score when he didn't even have Edin Dzeko dress for the game Paolo responded "Edin needed a break. We had players in the game who have shown the ability to score. They needed to score. They didn't."

Wolfsburg's next Bundesliga match will see them take on Stuttgart at Volkswagen Arena next Saturday night.. Stuttgart are currently 5th in the table, so it's reasonable to say this is a "must win" for Wolfsburg.

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Wolfsburg Stun Athletico Madrid, Advance To Quarterfinals!

March 17, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg (3) 3-0 (2) Athletico Madrid

Misimovic (34'), Martins (62', 69')

Wolfsburg gave their fans a thrilling treat by stunning Athletico Madrid 3-0 at Volkswagen Arena and eliminating Los Colchoneros from the Europa League. The win propels Wolfsburg into the quarterfinals of the tournament against an as yet to be determined opponent. Wolfsburg manager Paolo said "it's great to finally get a result to match the quality of our play. Everyone played great and it was a terrific team effort. The players said before the game that they were determined to make it into the next round and they went out and proved it on the pitch. It's their best performance since I became manager."

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Europa League Quarerfinal, Semifinal Draws Announced

Wolfsburg will take on Belgian side Club Brugge in the quarterfinal of the Europa League, with the first leg taking place on March 31st at Volkswagen Arena. Club Brugge took down Bundesliga side Werder Bremen in the second knockout round. The second leg will take place April 7th in Belgium.

If Wolfsburg advance past Club Brugge they'll take on the winner of Genoa vs. Celtic.

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Wolfsburg Beats Stuttgart 3-1

March 20, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg 3-1 Stuttgart

Martins (28', 90+2'), Boka (own goal 83') - Riquelme (own goal 64')

In a game punctuated by mistakes that led to two own goals Wolfsburg kept their slim hopes for continental qualification alive with a 3-1 win over Stuttgart. The star of the game was Obafemi Martins who scored 2 goals, including a goal in stoppage time that put the game out of reach.

With the win Wolfsburg remain in 10th place in the Bundesliga standings, 7 points behind 6th place Stuttgart. They next play 17th place Gladbach who are fighting with Mainz and Bochum to avoid relegation. The match will take place at Borussia Park.

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Sloppy Play Forces Wolfsburg To Settle For Draw

March 27, 2010 - Borussia Park, Monchengladbach

Gladbach 0-0 Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg's unfocused play cost them 2 points and dropped them to 11th in the Bundesliga standings following a scoreless draw with Gladbach. The point they earned now puts them 6 points behind 6th place Stuttgart pending their match tomorrow against Hannover. Numberg's 2-1 win over Freiburg enabled them to pass Wolfsburg in the standings.

Wolfsburg's next Bundesliga match is against their fierce rivals from Hannover, but the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinal against Club Brugge will be sandwiched in between. Fans have speculated that as important as the Europa League is, they're hoping Wolfsburg manager Paolo considers resting some of his starting XI in preparation for the Hannover game. One fan said "we want to get back into the Europa League next year too, and it would certainly be nice to get a win over Hannover to help us do it!".

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Graphite Powers Wolfsburg Backups To Club Brugge Draw

March 31, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg 2-2 Club Brugge

Graphite (8', 44') - Perisic (17', 74')

In a move that didn't surprise many onlookers Wolfsburg manager Paolo put out a team filled with backups and youth players as he had an eye towards this weekend's showdown with Hannover. Graphite, who has seen some playing time over the season, sparked the Wolves bench players to a well earned 2-2 draw in the first leg of the Europa League quarterfinals. The second leg will be played next weekend in Belgium.

After the match Paolo commented "it wasn't all about just resting guys in preparation for Hannover, although that did figure in with some players. We've had some injuries lately with Dzeko and Riquelme both going down. We had a few guys who have reached their yellow card limit. Of course the Club Brugge match was important and I'm glad we managed to get a draw. Now we have to go into their place and at see if we can find a way to get the win."

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Wolfsburg Satisfied With Win Over Rivals

April 3, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

Wolfsburg 1-0 Hannover

Misimovic (69')

Zvjezdan Misimovic scored on a free kick from just outside the area propelling Wolfsburg to a well earned victory over their rivals from Hannover. The win, coupled with a Numberg draw and a Koln loss allow the Wolves to move up to 9th place in the Bundesliga table with 4 fixtures to go. But their hopes of qualifying for continental competition are waning as they are still 6 points out of a qualification spot. They must win out and hope teams ahead of them stumble.

Next up for Wolfsburg is the road leg of the quarterfinals of the Europa League in Belgium. Following that match they go to Hamburger SV to try to continue to move up the table. 3 of their final 4 Bundesliga matches will be on the road.

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Away Goals Propel Club Brugge Past Wolfsburg

April 7, 2010 - Jan Baydelstadion, Bruges Belgium

Club Brugge (a) (3) 1-1 (3) Wolfsburg

Akpala (57') - Dzeko (32')

Joseph Akpala's equalizer for Club Brugge at the 57 minute mark put the pressure on Wolfsburg to score one more away goal, but they couldn't do it and Club Brugge advanced to the Europa League semifinals. Edin Dzeko's goal at the 32 minute mark broke a long goal scoring drought for the star striker. Wolfsburg manager Paolo said "we played well enough to win. They're a good side. I can't say I'm surprised that they eliminated us but I think we should have gotten further then we did."

Now that the Wolves have been knocked out of all other competitions they can focus all their attention on finishing the Bundesliga season strong.

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Wolves Need Miracle After Loss To HSV

April 10, 2010 - HSH Nordbank Arena, Hamburg

HSV 2-1 Wolfsburg

van Nistelrooy (pen. 45+1'), Esfahani own goal (57') - Dzeko (13')

Edin Dzeko's early goal looked to put Wolfsburg in a good position, but mistakes later in the game sealed the Wolves fate. A penalty assessed against Omer Toprak gave HSV their first goal. A mistake on a corner kick by Mehdi Esfahani saw him put the ball into his own net on a rebound giving HSV their margin of victory. And Tobais Weis was sent off at the 83rd minute mark all but ending Wolfsburg's hopes of even getting a draw. Wolfsburg manager Paolo was not amused - "Sometimes I don't get this team. We play very well one night, then act like the keystone cops the next. HSV is a good team and maybe even more talented then ours, but it was our own mistakes that let them win."

With the loss Wolfsburg remain in 9th place in the Bundesliga table with 3 matches to go, a full 8 points behind Schalke to qualify for next year's Europa League. "Mathematically we still have a chance but even if we win out our fate is still almost certainly sealed" said Paolo, "we'll just have to play our best and hope for a strong finish. But the team needs to know this isn't good enough next year."

Wolfsburg's final home game of the season is next week hosting 3rd place Frankfurt.

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Wolfsburg Draw With Frankfurt Ends European Hopes For Next Year

April 17, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

Wolfsburg 1-1 Frankfurt

Dzeko (12') - Amanatidis (71')

When Edin Dzeko scored at the 12 minute mark Wolves fans thought their hopes of playing in Europe next season would remain alive. But when Frankfurt equalized late in the second half those dreams faded away. Wolfsburg manager Paolo said "we played much better tonight then last week. I think we got a little complacent in the second half and that cost us. I guess if I can take away a positive from not qualifying for continental competition it's that there won't be as much fixture congestion next season."

Wolfsburg finish up their 2009-2010 campaign with road games at Freiburg & Koln. It's anticipated that Paolo will try to get a good look at many of his backups and youth players since the Wolves have nothing left to play for. He won't want to risk injury to any of the regular starters.

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Freiburg Takes Advantage Of Wolfsburg Bench

May 1, 2010 - Badenova Stadion, Freiburg

Freiburg 3-1 Wolfsburg

Namouchi (5'), Reisinger (77'), Schuster (90+2') - Kreuels (28')

While the scorline indicates domination by Frieburg it was actually a much closer game. Wolfsburg manager Paolo played most of his backups and youth players and had to be happy with his team being even with Freiburg for the first 77 minutes. "We're certainly not happy with losing but at this point it's about looking to the future" said Paolo. When asked if there were any players in particular he was evaluating Paolo responded "I was watching everyone but if I had to pick one player I had the most interest in it would be Benedetto Monforte, who we acquired shortly after I took over as manager. Because of how the season played out I didn't have much opportunity to see him in game action. He played very well and confirmed in my mind why we acquired him."

With the loss the Wolves fall to 11th in the Bundesliga table. Wolfsburg conclude their season next week at Koln.

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Wolves End Season On Sour Note

May 8, 2010 - Rhein Energie Stadion, Koln

Koln 6-0 Wolfsburg

Novakovic (15', 25', 28', 61'), Maniche (41'), Mohamed (46')

Milivoje Novakovic scored 4 gaols against the Wolfsburg youth and bench players with 2 more goals added by Maniche and Youssef Mohamed to rout the Wolves 6-0. The heavy loss ensured that Wolfsburg would finish the 2009-2010 Bundesliga season in 11th place with 45 points. The Wolves won 12 games, lost 13, and drew 9. Following the game Wolfsburg manager Paolo agreed to an extended interview...

Sky Sports: Now that the season is over are you happy with how it went?

Paolo: Well, I have good things I take away from it and disappointments. I can't say I'm happy with where we finished, but I am happy about how we played in the Europa League.

Sky Sports: Talking specifically about the team's play on the pitch, what positives do you take away from this season?

Paolo: I think we showed improvement in some critical areas, mainly the middle of the park and on the edges of the back line. Up front Edin Dzeko played well but he seemed a bit streaky. But I'm expecting more from him next year.

Sky Sports: I'm sure you have negatives as well?

Paolo: Well I'm not going to single out any players if that's what you're looking for. But I'd say we've identified 3 issues that stand out to us. First off there seems to be a lack of leadership in the dressing room. Josue is a great guy and his teammates love him, but I think he needs help "rallying the troops". Secondly, we still need to improve defensively. We still conceded too many goals. And third is consistency. Some games we'd play great, and then the next night we'd be terrible. We'd have a few weeks where one guy would score a few goals, then he'd disappear and someone else would get hot. We need to be more consistent.

Sky Sports: So does that mean there will be major changes to the lineup next season?

Paolo: That depends. I have a few moves I want to make. But it'll depend on a few factors, mostly financial.

Sky Sports: Are there specific positions or players you'll be targeting?

Paolo: I'd rather not answer that right now. If I do and we don't make changes in that area it undermines the players currently on the team.

Sky Sports: How about the staff? Can we expect to see any changes in the backroom?

Paolo: Goalkeeping coach Ralf Kellermann's contract ends in June and we've agreed to part ways. Beyond that I wouldn't expect to see much change.

Sky Sports: Any message to the fans before you head out for the summer break?

Paolo: Just that we all want to win as much as they do and we'll do everything in our power to improve greatly over how the team played this year and we'll hope to have another foray into continental competition in 2 seasons.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For the record Wolfsburg won 12 games, lost 9, and drew 7 after I took over the team.

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Wolfsburg Complete Fleck Purchase

May 19, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

Wolfsburg manager Paolo announced this morning that the club had completed the purchase of 18 year old striker John Fleck from Scottish side Rangers. Fleck had been on loan at Wolfsburg since January. He scored 3 goals in 11 appearances. "He's a very good young talent and we're glad he'll be playing here in the future" said Paolo. Terms of the deal were not announced but it's believed Fleck will play in Wolfsburg through 2013.

In other transfer news Wolfsburg announced that defensive specialist Rever has agreed to move to Sporting CP on July 1st.

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Wolfsburg Announce Plans To Expand Stadium, Improve Youth & Training Facilities, Link With Dutch Club Veendam

May 25, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

It was a busy day in the Wolfsburg front office as numerous press releases were made available. First came news that the team will expand Volkswagen Arena this summer, adding 3,500 seats which will bring the total capacity to 33,500 with seating for 25,500. The expansion will cost just over 500,000 Euros and is slated to be completed by the end of June.

Following that news it was announced that the team will also improve the youth academy and training facilities over the summer. The details of the improvements were not available but they will cost 800,000 Euros and should be complete by the start of next season.

And finally Wolfsburg announced a link with Dutch club BV Veendam, who were champions of the Jupiter League this year earning them promotion to the Eredivise for 2010-2011. The partnership will allow Wolfsburg to send players to Veendam on loan and will give them first option to purchase any players that Veendam are trying to sell. Veendam will host an annual friendly with Wolfsburg and neither side will be obligated to field a full team. Wolfsburg will pay Veendam 54,000 Euros per season.

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Wolfsburg Busy In Transfer Market As New Season Draws Near

July 26, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena

With the opening of Wolfsburg's 2010-2011 season just a few days away it seems prudent to review the team's moves in the summer transfer market, and boy were they busy! Not counting free transfer departures and loans to affiliates Wolfsburg made 15 deals in July, spending 32M Euros and making 51M Euros. The most notable acquisitions were of DC Nicolas Burdisso from Inter Milan, ST Oscar Cardozo from Benfica, and GK Sergio Romero from Holland's AZ. Leaving Wolfsburg were DC Rever to Sporting, MC Tobias Weiss to Numberg, DL Marvin Compper to Manchester United, DC Andrea Barzgali to Sevilla, MC Ruslan Rotan to Bayern Munich, and ST Obafemi Martins on a loan to buy to Genoa. Wolfsburg manager Paolo sat down to discuss the moves....

Sky Sports: Let's start with the Cardozo acquisition. Clearly you felt you needed more scoring punch?

Paolo: Yeah, we were unable to put away close games last year. We had 9 draws and we lost 12 games by 1 goal. I'm hoping that Oscar, with help from guys like Grafite and John Fleck, can help keep defenses from keying on Edin Dzeko. If they have more threats to worry about there's more of a chance someone will come open. Then it's just a matter of finishing.

Sky Sports: Many people were surprised you loaned out Obafemi Martins. Why not keep him at the team and loan out someone like Fleck or Grafite?

Paolo: Obafemi should be in someone's starting lineup every night. He's a proven commodity. He'll see more playing time at Genoa.

Sky Sports: And it's a loan to buy. Do you not want Martins back?

Paolo: I wouldn't say that. I'd say that if Genoa wants to keep him and he wants to stay there why should we stand in his way? If he's back here next year that's fine.

Sky Sports: Moving to the back line many were surprised to see Wolfsburg sign Nicolas Burdisso from Inter. Was he always high on your list of acquisitions?

Paolo: Yes, but mainly because Inter was actively shopping him. Nicolas is a good player and we got him for only 1.8M Euros transfer fee. Normally a guy like that would have cost more.

Sky Sports: Even so, with guys like Barzgali, Rever, and Compper moving on you might be looking to add another central defender?

Paolo: I'm very happy with our center backs (Toprak & Burdisso), but I admit we could probably add a little more depth in case of injury.

Sky Sports: And finally to the move that's been the most debated among Wolves fans, the signing of GK Sergio Romero from AZ. Let's talk about money first. Between Cardozo and Romero you spent 26.5M Euros on 2 players. Don't you think you went overboard?

Paolo: Not at all. You have to spend money to make money and you have to spend it to win. We believed if we wanted to achieve our goals for this year and years to come we had to be better in those 2 areas of the park. We got the players we wanted.

Sky Sports: Ok, so what does this mean for Diego Benaglio? Will you be moving him now?

Paolo: Not at all. The only thing better then a good goalie is 2 good goalies. It'll be tough to keep both guys happy but they'll both get plenty of starts to hopefully they'll be able to carry the team.

Sky Sports: So you're talking about a rotation in goal? That's not usually a very good tactic. Will one guy win the permanent starting job or will it be a season long rotation?

Paolo: I'm not ruling anything out right now. We'll just have to see how the season plays out.

Sky Sports: You start your season in a few days traveling to Lok Leipzig in the German Cup. Confident of a win?

Paolo: There's never a "sure thing" in this game. Every team can beat every other team. With that said I expect the team to have a strong showing and get our season off on the right foot.

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New Arrivals Key Wolfsburg To Easy German Cup Victory

July 31, 2010 - Bruno Plache Stadion, Leipzig

Lok Leipzig 0-3 Wolfsburg

Cardozo (6'), Riqueleme (10'), Burdisso (44')

Oscar Cardozo made his debut for Wolfsburg a success in quick fashion, scoring a headed ball on a cross from fellow new arrival Nicolas Burdisso at the 6 minute mark. After Juan Roman Riqueleme gave Wolfsburg a 2-0 lead at the 10 minute mark Burdisso closed out the scoring with a goal of his own at the 44 minute mark and Wolfsburg won their German Cup first round match 3-0 over Lok Leipzig. Lok Leipzig was never able to mount an offensive threat. They only managed 1 long shot which was blocked and Wolfsburg held possession of the ball for more then 60 minutes of the match.

Next up for Wolfsburg will be the opening of their Bundesliga season with a trip to Hamburg to take on HSV. Their home opener will be on August 14th against Freiburg, depending on the draw of the 2nd round of the German Cup.

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Wolves Open Bundesliga Season With Draw In Hamburg

August 7, 2010 - HSH Nordbank Arena, Hamburg

HSV 1-1 Wolfsburg

Roberto (33') - Cardozo (9')

For the second game in a row Oscar Cardozo thrilled Wolfsburg fans with an early goal scoring at the 9 minute mark, but the Wolves were forced to settle for a draw after Ze Roberto scored at the 33 minute mark. Overall it was a pretty even match, but it was scarred by fouls. The two teams combined for 31 infractions and 4 yellow cards. "It was a bit chippy out there. Our guys were certainly trying to send a message" said Wolfsburg manager Paolo.

Next up for Wolfsburg is their home opener against Freiburg in 1 week's time.

BTW, in case anyone is curious I thought I'd post my starting XI since I haven't done so since I took over the team:

GK: Romero/Benaglio

DL: Guilherme

DR: Esfahani

DC: Burdisso

DC: Toprak

MC: Borowski

MC: Josue

MC: Riquelme

AMC: Misimovic

ST: Dzeko

ST: Cardozo

Guilherme is starting to become a problem. He's been very unsettled since I got him. He's already required 2 leave of absences and has missed multiple practices without permission. Other teams are interested in him and he's been squawking about a move. If he doesn't shape up soon I may just oblige him. I knew it was a risk bringing a Brazilian over to Europe who has a reputation for being temperamental .

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Hapless Freiburg Hand Wolfsburg Easy Win

August 14, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg 2-1 Freiburg

Vorsah (own goal, 38'), Pouplin (own goal, 59') - Jager (83')

A hard shot from the top of the area by Mehdi Esfahani glanced off Isaac Vorsah's leg and into the net for Wolfsburg's first goal, and a blistering shot by John Fleck from inside the area beat Simon Pouplin, glanced off the post, hit Pouplin in the backside and deflected into the net for Wolfsburg's second goal. Jonathon Jager added a goal at the 83 minute mark to make the scoreline more respectable but in all reality Wolfsburg dominated the match from start to finish.

With 4 points Wolfsburg are in sole possession of 3rd place in the Bundesliga table, 2 points behind Bayern Munich & Koln. The Wolves next take on Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena next weekend in what is already shaping up as a big showdown. Bayern beat Wolfsburg 2-1 in Munich last season while the Wolves got a win at home 3-2 later in the season.

Also announced this weekend were the draw for the second round of the German Cup. Wolfsburg will travel to Berlin to take on Bundesliga 2 side Union Berlin on September 21st.

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Wolfsburg Continues Spending, Signs Rakitskyi

August 20, 2010 - Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg manager Paolo continued his free spending by signing Ukrainian left back Yaroslav Rakitskyi from Shakhtar. Terms of the transfer were not announced but the contract Rakitskyi signed is for 5 years at 22,000 Euros per week. "We got a really good young player at a reasonable price and we have him for the best years of his career. We're very pleased with the deal" said Paolo. With the Rakitskyi acquisition it seems almost certain now that volatile left back Guilherme will be on the transfer market and should be moving soon, just as it seems he's wanted to. Paolo however refused comment on Guilherme's status.

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Romero Injury Seals Wolfsburg's Fate

August 22, 2010 - Allianz Arena, Munich

FC Bayern 2-0 Wolfsburg

Olic (33'), Gomez (90+3')

At the 78 minute mark Wolfsburg starting goalkeeper Sergio Romero went down with a leg injury and had to come off the pitch. Since Wolfsburg had already made their 3 allowed substitutions they could not put a replacement on for him and were forced to finish the match with Nicolas Burdisso in net. Burdisso played as well as he could but Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez finally beat him in stoppage time to help Bayern win the game 2-0.

The Romero injury doesn't appear to be serious and he's expected to be available for Wolfsburg's next match. The Wolves next take on Numberg at Volkswagen Arena next weekend.

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