Ground: Volkswagen Arena
Date: 25th February 2010
Match: Wolfsburg - Villarreal 4-1 (UEFA Europa League)
Attendance: 16 613
Sweden have been battered with snow and very cold weather this winter and it was nice to be able to leave the country for a couple of days. My trip to Germany started with the short flight to Berlin (Tegel) and then an hour on the train before I reached my destination of the day, Wolfsburg. The city of Wolfsburg was founded in 1938 as a place to live for car workers working in the nearby Volkswagen factory. The first football club affiliated with the autoworks was known as BSG Volkswagenwerk Stadt des KdF-Wagen. After almost ceasing to exist in December 1945 the club changed its name to Vfl Wolfsburg and was rebuilt from scratch. The club made slow but steady progress in the German leagues and between mid-70s and early 90s the club played in Oberliga Nord. It was not until the 1992-93 season the club finally made it to 2. Bundesliga though. Five years later Vfl Wolfsburg were promoted to Bundesliga and against predictions the club managed to establish themselves as a mid-table side. In 2007/2008 Wolfsburg finished 5th in the table, their highest ever place in Bundesliga. Under manager Felix Magath the club then went on to win the 2008/2009 Bundesliga, an astonishing achievement for a club like Wolfsburg. Playing in the Champions League (as champions) was a dream come true for Wolfsburg fans but failing to make it to the knock-out stage was probably a slight disppointment anyway. Finishing third means they would still play in Europe though, in the new Europa League. Tonight´s opponents Villarreal have themselves been quite successful in Europe recently and this was a game I was looking forward to attend.
After finding my hotel I walked up to the ground and from the nearby railway bridge it was possible to take som excellent overview pictures of the Volkswagen Arena. Volkswagen Arena was opened for the 2002/2003 season and have a capacity of around 30 000. For international matches the capacity is 26 000 when the 8 000 standing places are converted to 4 000 seats. I knew this game would struggle to sell out, Villarreal have very few away fans following their away matches and Wolfsburg isn´t the biggest of clubs. The away section was empty but there was actually some away fans inside Volkswagen Arena. 25-50 Villarreal fans were seated 10 rows above me in the main stand. My ticket actually said "Kein Zutritt für Gästefans" but apparently Villarreal is regarded as a friendly club. Most Wolfsburg fans around me seemed to enjoy having Villarreal fans close to them though, lots of handshakes and pictures being taken. The actual match was a strange affair, the visitors seemed to have left their defence at home and Wolfsburg were 2-0 up after 15 minutes. Despite missing a load of chances Wolfsburg were 3-1 up at half-time. In the second half Wolfsburg scored yet another goal and won the game 4-1 (6-3 on aggregate). It was quite cold as I walked back to my hotel (21.05 kick-off) but with 5 goals and a new ground for me there wasn´t much to complain about.
Rear of the North Stand
A wolf !
View of play