Manuel Veth –
St-Étienne vs Wolfsburg – Thursday, October 3, 17:55BST/18:55CEST – Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, St-Étienne, France
It has been a poor start to the season for new St-Étienne head coach Ghislain Printant. Just eight points from the first eight games in Ligue 1 means St-Étienne have dropped all the way down to 19th place in the standings.
Furthermore, in the Europa League Les Verts fell to rampant Canadian striker sensation Jonathan David, who scored twice against St-Étienne in KAA Gent’s 3-2 victory. As a result, Printant has come under fire and rumour in France has it that Claude Puel could soon take over in St-Étienne.
A victory in the Europa League against Wolfsburg would, therefore, go a long way to take off some of the pressure. Wolfsburg, however, have had a good start to their Bundesliga campaign under new head coach Oliver Glasner.
The 45-year-old Austrian joined the club from LASK this summer. Replacing the successful Bruno Labbadia was never going to be easy but Glasner was brought in to develop the side and create a culture of beautiful football.
It has not been all smooth for Wolfsburg with the side still adapting to the new 3-4-3 formation. At the same time, still undefeated in six games Wolfsburg average two points a game and at times the playing philosophy is already visible at times.
“Footballing wise we can still improve,” Glasner said after the game against Mainz this weekend. The 1-0 victory was not the most beautiful this season but unlike previous games Wolfsburg kept a clean-sheet. Glasner was, in particular, happy with his team’s defensive work-rate and overall saw the game as a step into the right direction.
A direction that Wolfsburg want to continue on Thursday in France. The Wolves were the only German team to win in the Europa League on matchday 1—3-1 against Oleksandriya—and another three points would go a long way towards ensuring a place in the knockout stage.
St-Étienne vs Wolfsburg – Players to look out for:
William Saliba #4 – St-Étienne
Ahead of the season St-Étienne sold William Saliba to Arsenal for €30 million. The 18-year-old was immeditely loaned back to St-Étienne, however, for further seasoning. The defender was one of the ten most expensive signings in Arsenal’s history this summer after making 19 appearances for St-Étienne. This season, however, Saliba has struggled with a leg injury but returned in his club’s win against Lille last weekend.
Josip Brekalo #7 – Wolfsburg
Josip Brekalo was on the brink of leaving Wolfsburg this summer. The Croatian winger was unhappy with his playing time and potential future at Wolfsburg. But in recent weeks Brekalo has become a regular starter under Glasner, who sees him as a perfect fit on the flank in his preferred 3-4-3 formation.
St-Étienne vs Wolfsburg – Match Stats
- The clubs are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition, this is, however, St-Étienne’s 20th match against German opposition, the previous 19 having brought just three wins.
- St-Étienne are unbeaten at home in the UEFA Europa League group stage, but seven of those nine matches have been drawn.
- Wolfsburg’s only win in six trips to France (D2 L3) came on their last visit, on matchday six of the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League, when they won 3-0 at LOSC Lille to secure their place in the round of 32.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: St-Étienne vs Wolfsburg – 0-2
St-Étienne vs Wolfsburg – Lineups
Moulin – Kolodziejczak, Moukoudi, Perrin, Debuchy – M’Vila, Cabaye – Nordin, Hamouma, Bouanga – Khazri
Head Coach: Ghislain Printant
Pervan – Tisserand, Bruma, Knoche – Roussillon, Arnold, Guilavogui, William – Brekalo, Weghorst, Mehmedi
Head Coach: Oliver Glasner
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.