Wolfsberger AC analysis with European football expert Andy Brassell
Wed 17 February 2021, 10:20|Tottenham Hotspur
We step back into UEFA Europa League action on Thursday night as we take on Austrian Bundesliga side Wolfsberger AC in the first leg of our Round of 32 tie at the Puskas Arena, Budapest (5.55pm UK).
Ahead of the first leg, we’ve again tapped into the knowledge of European football expert Andy Brassell (@andybrassell), a regular on BT Sport and the pages and podcasts of the likes of The Guardian, Football Ramble and talkSPORT.
Andy on Wolfsberger AC
"It’s an amazing story. It’s worth pointing out, even last season, their first in Europe, it would be easy to casually look at it and say, ‘oh, they finished bottom of their group’, but they still won 4-0 in Borussia Monchengladbach, whose coach, Marco Rose, is set to take over at Borussia Dortmund! What they’ve done on a very small amount of money is incredible, really, and Ferdinand Feldhofer, the coach who came in at the start of last season, the summer of 2019, has done a phenomenal job.
"They picked up some decent results in Europe, drew twice against Roma as well, and they were brave. They've had a go at teams. It’s so impressive when you think what they have to work with compared to the bigger clubs in the competition. One important thing to note is that since last season, Wolfsberger sold their star striker, Shon Weissman, who is an Israeli international. He moved to Real Valladolid in Spain, and he’s just starting to hit a bit of form. He went out on almost a goal a game for Wolfsberger last season and they had to sell. For a team at, let’s say, a moderate level, to replace a player like that, someone who scores a lot of goals, is really difficult. What they’ve done is bring in a loanee from Eintracht Frankfurt, Dejan Joveljić, he’s rated there but still quite young, and he’s done a good job for Wolfsberger - he scored the winner in a league game against Admira Wacker at the weekend. He’s a really good footballer, not just a striker, he’s intuitive, he can drop deep and exchange passes with players and hold the ball up, so there is a lot more to him. It was a great goal as well, he dropped deeper, played a one-two and then curled home from the edge of the box.
"In the attacking half, maybe they can pose a few questions, particularly getting the ball in from wide areas. They can cause all sorts of problems from set pieces and corners. I have to say, defensively, I’m not sold on them at all. If you look at the game against Admira Wacker, they conceded a lot of chances. To be fair, they did well to come back as they conceded after three minutes.
"I think they will throw everything at this tie. They will find it tough to qualify for Europe again through the league this time around - they are 10 points off the European pace - so that to me says the attitude will be to treat this in the moment. They’ve qualified for Europe twice in a row, that’s amazing, and the games they’ve got to play - Gladbach, Roma, CSKA Moscow, Feyenoord, who they beat twice - incredible results. To be in a group with those three teams, all with great European histories, and get out of it, is really impressive.
"I’m sure they will go for it, but I don’t think they’ve got that strength defensively. They tend to play with three at the back, and someone like Sergio Reguilon, if he's fit, will do very well against them, that could be something to look at. Gustav Henriksson, the Swede, is a real threat from set pieces. He scored the equaliser against Admira Wacker. Like I’ve said, I think their idea will be to seize the moment. They have been to Feyenoord’s De Kuip, a busy Borussia-Park, the Stadio Olympico and basically said, ‘okay, we’re going to play’. It’s almost like ‘you only live once’ and they will make the most of it."