FC Augsburg’s opening Bundesliga game of the 2016/17 season proved to be an unsuccessful one. FCA lost their first home game against VfL Wolfsburg 0-2 in front of 26,172 spectators at the WWK ARENA. Daniel Didavi (35′) and Ricardo Rodriguez (89′) sealed the victory for the visitors.
FCA’s new head coach Dirk Schuster was able to recall captain Paul Verhaegh to the starting line up after he missed the DFB Cup first round game due to an ankle injury. Apart from that change, Schuster selected the same team that beat Ravensburg last weekend. Before the game, Schuster was given his award for “Kicker” Manager of the Year, presented to him by Kicker’s chief editor Rainer Franzke. FCA defender Philipp Max was also honoured ahead of kick off for winning an Olympic silver medal with the Germany team in Rio.
In sweltering conditions FCA had the better of the opening exchanges, as Wolfsburg initially struggled to make it out of their own half. Opportunities for both sides were few and far between, as Wolfsburg defended well allowing the hosts little chance to create space.
However as the first half went on, the visitors grew in confidence. A counterattack in the 9th minute led to a Julian Draxler shot from 30 yards out which was saved comfortably by FCA goalkeeper Marwin Hitz. Following that the game was largely played out in the congested midfield area.
After half an hour of play, Ja-Cheol Koo sent an effort wide from distance. Shortly after, Koo acted as the provider, laying on a chance for Caiuby from the edge of the area, but his volley failed to threaten the visitors’ goal.
Wolfsburg took the lead through Daniel Didavi shortly before half time. A dangerous cross from Daniel Caligiuri on the break was flicked on by Bas Dost as the midfielder made a late run into the Augsburg area. From just inside the box, he placed a powerful shot into the roof of the net, leaving Marwin Hitz stranded. Half time arrived a few minutes later with the visitors in the lead.
Augsburg visibly started the second half with a greater sense of purpose as they searched for the equaliser. In the 48th minute, Koo delivered a ball from the right to the waiting Robin Knoche, but he sent his effort narrowly wide of the target. Raul Bobadilla was the next to go close but was also unable to convert. Although Augsburg had the run of the play in the second half, they struggled at times to make high quality chances.
Bobadilla tested Koen Casteels with a stinging effort from the edge of the box, and despite a few other near misses, the hosts were unable to bring the scores level. Wolfsburg themselves threatened intermittently, as Caligiuri forced Hitz into a smart save in the 70th minute.
Takuma Usami was given his Bundesliga debut, coming on in the 81st minute, but unfortunately the new man was unable to grab a goal to mark his first outing in Augsburg colours. Wolfsburg confirmed their win with Ricardo Rodriguez’s drilled, close-range free kick in the 89th minute, solidifying a disappointing day for Augsburg, though there remain plenty of positives to take from the performance.