Thirteen matches into this seasonai??i??s Bundesliga, we have seen a fair share of surprises ai??i?? Dortmund and Hamburg sitting on the bottom, Augsburg fighting for 4th place and Paderborn within sight of the Europa League places. But another striking feature after a glance at the table, is Wolfsburgai??i??s proximity to leaders Bayern Munich at the top.

After Dieter Heckingai??i??s side managed to finish last season in 5th place and just 1 point behind the Champions League qualification spots, they seemed to have taken heart from this and now the Wolves look to provide genuine competition to Bayern.

Here are the reasons behind Wolfsburgai??i??s great season, why this is not merely a one-hit wonder and why they can genuinely build up from here.

Home form

Still unbeaten in the league at home, the Northern outfit have just shipped in just 4 goals at the Volkswagen Arena. Competitive visitors in the form of Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach have tasted defeat here and in fact, the only side to have escaped with a point are lucky Eintracht Frankfurt. A great season has its basis in a great home record, as proved by the Dortmund side of 2010-11 and the Leverkusen of 2011. Not only did the defence have a part to play in this, but a hard working and solid midfield also helped shutdown opposition attacks earlier.

With the VW-Arena still to play host to superpowers Bayern Munich, Schalke and Borussia Dortmund, the Wolves would be confident of taking more than a single point from each of these opponents.

Summer transfers and all-rounded squad

After last seasonai??i??s success, manager Dieter Hecking stuck to the age old saying of ai???Never alter a winning formulaai??i??. With no important player from last season having left the club, the basis of the team remains as it is.

The experience of Swiss keeper Diego Benaglio and defender Naldo stabilizes the young defence which includes the likes of Ricardo Rodriguez who has enjoyed a great 2014, young German internationals Robin Knoche and Sebastian Jung, who could well be a mainstay in the national team in the years to come. The additional experience of Germany’s full backs, Christian Trasch and Marcel Schafer, on the bench, show that this defence is not merely a thin layer.

After strengthening midfield depth by signing French international Joshua Guilavogui and Bundesliga veteran Aaron Hunt, the Wolves can boast of a formidable midfield as well. Ivan Perisic, Vieirinha, Kevin De Bruyne and Luiz Gustavo are all important players for their respective national sides and with Maximillian Arnold ready to serve as back-up, the near future looks secure.

In attack, even though the evergreen Ivica Olic still has a few tricks up his sleeve and Nicklas Bendtner is a valuable second choice striker to have, it is here that Wolfsburg are a tad underwhelming. Against Everton and ai???Gladbach, on any other day a comfortable victory would be the result, but wastefulness in front of goal proved to be influential. Most often, however, the energy from midfield led by Kevin De Bruyne has provided the contribution in the final third.

Kevin De Bruyne

VFL Wolfsburgai??i??s standout player of the season. The ex-Chelsea man is a proven man in the Bundesliga after just 1 season at Werder Bremen, where his quality was showcased amidst a poor season for the team.

Now, in times when his side are lacking the inspiration and driving force, De Bruyne provides that additional spark. Normally operating from a central position, the Belgian is just as comfortable in deeper and wider roles in midfield. He is the main man behind conducting the Wolfsburg attacks, and his record this season underlines his importance to the team ai??i?? 9 league assists, only matched by Cesc Fabregas in Europeai??i??s top 4 leagues.Ai?? With an additional 4 goals scored, 3 of which in the Europa League, there is no doubting the Belgianai??i??s value in the team.

De Bruyneai??i??s comfort in various midfield roles, whether taking on a defender from a wide role, looking to play the long ball from defence, or even acting as a poacher in the box, has made him into perhaps the standout player of the Bundesliga this season. His market value (20 million Euro acc. to transfermarkt.de) is sure to increase if he continues his current level of play, and will certainly attract attention from bigger clubs across Europe.

With all this said, Wolfsburg still have mountain to climb if they are to secure a European spot next season, and additional challenges in the form of the Europa League and the DFB Pokal this year could stretch the team to the limit. It is now that VFL Wolfsburg need to show us, show everyone that they are the real deal.

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