It was completely unclear for Borussia Dortmund how Marius Wolf would return after a long break and heart surgery. But now the 27-year-old is a regular player and has top values within the BVB team. Is that even enough for the national team?
“Amazing” is the best word to describe soccer player Marius Wolf. It just applies to him in so many ways. It was astonishing that after numerous setbacks at an early stage in his career, he even made it to the current level. The way he suddenly turned up the heat at Eintracht Frankfurt in the 2017/18 cup win season (17 goals in 34 competitive games) was not a matter of course.
Marius Wolf’s unusual career – an interview from February 2022
Few would have predicted that Wolf has played 57 games at Borussia Dortmund in the past two seasons, including 31 in the starting XI, and is currently a clear regular player – after BVB had already loaned him out twice because none of the coaches really relied on him. But now Wolf’s performances are described as “outstandingly good” by coach Edin Terzic.
The 27-year-old started as a right-back in eight of the eleven competitive games in 2023. And this – again keyword “amazing” – after taking a week-long break when atrial fibrillation necessitated heart surgery in October. It was then completely unclear when and, above all, how Wolf would come back. But since his return to team training in January, “he has blossomed completely,” says Terzic.
As in the previous season, Wolf also benefits from injuries, Thomas Meunier, for example, was out for a long time, but he has undoubtedly made another step forward. Ideally, that’s what you do when you get regular match practice, enjoy the coach’s trust and, what’s more, play in a successful team.
BVB: Marius Wolf is reminiscent of Kevin Grosskreutz
“He has improved and strengthened his defense significantly,” said Terzic recently. “How he closes the inner line, how he picks up the timing, how he anticipates long balls so as not to stay in a closed position and then picks up the pace directly. Also how he wins balls in direct duels in all areas. Be It’s the depth of defense or in the last third how he follows up and conquers the balls with his counter-pressing. He’s been doing that well all season.”
In addition to these improvements, it is Wolf’s well-known player profile that, together with his current high level of self-confidence, makes him so valuable for the team. He is reminiscent of someone like Kevin Großkreutz, who rose to become a top performer under Jürgen Klopp, although he was also limited and unconventional in many footballing points. But like Grosskreutz, Wolf makes up for this with other qualities that BVB should emphasize again more.
Wolf is robust in a duel, loves to run, is physically strong and plays with a big heart and a lot of passion. He is a reliable assistant and team player who is so versatile that, as a trained offensive player, he can be trusted to play a wide variety of positions in many basic formations. Wolf can give a team a lot of energy and is not above himself for the dirty work.
Marius Wolf at BVB is well ahead in some categories
In the 2-0 win in Leverkusen, his first game from the start of the new year, it was Wolf’s pressing action that made it 1-0 and his sharp cross that resulted in the own goal for the second goal. His dream goal against Hoffenheim four weeks later, when he smashed the ball under the crossbar from the right edge of the penalty area, was only denied recognition because of a foul play several seconds earlier.
If you compare him to his Dortmund teammates, Wolf is well ahead in some categories. He knocks out the most crosses per 90 minutes (3.3). When it comes to passes, only Julian Brandt (1.7), Karim Adeyemi (1.5) and Raphael Guerreiro (1.5) have a better average than Wolf (1.1).
In the team-internal duel with the other full-backs Guerreiro, Thomas Meunier and Julian Ryerson, it is Wolf who has the highest speed (34.5 km/h) and the best rate of tackles (60 percent). Only Nico Schlotterbeck (66 percent), Emre Can (64 percent) and Mats Hummels (61 percent) win more direct duels. Also top: Wolf runs an average of 11.6 kilometers per game, which is the third best value at BVB after Meunier (12.4) and Ryerson (11.7).
Will Marius Wolf make it into the national team?
Where he still needs to improve and become more effective is with the accuracy of his passes. Wolf’s pass rate of 77 percent is only beaten by Meunier (73 percent) and the two center forwards Youssoufa Moukoko (72 percent) and Anthony Modeste (60 percent). Wolf is not a noble technician, but solid on the ball – but he plays too many bad passes and acts too imprecisely in front of the goal. Nevertheless, Terzic praises: “Marius has a good technical flow on the ball and remains very calm under pressure. He hits excellent crosses, which helps a lot when you have a great striker on the field.”
It remains to be seen whether Wolf will win one of the two possible titles with Borussia this season. On the other hand, it is conceivable that he will soon be able to celebrate a personal success. “We would really wish him that the national team would become an issue,” says his coach. With a view to the international matches against Peru and Belgium at the end of March and the statement by national coach Hansi Flick that he wants to nominate a few newcomers there, it does not seem unreasonable that Wolf could be there for the first time.
At least the right-back position in the DFB team is far from ideal. Niklas Süle and Joshua Kimmich are needed elsewhere, Thilo Kehrer rarely convinced. One could certainly dare a test run with Wolf, who could have competition within the league from Bremen’s Mitchell Weiser, who is flirting with Algeria’s national team. With his mixture of hard work, assertiveness and mentality, Wolf would be the type of player that the DFB would like to see in order to generate more recognition and identification in the future.
BVB coach Edin Terzic praises Marius Wolf’s development
“If Marius Wolf doesn’t become a national player, I’ll stop,” said Wolf’s close buddy and ex-player in Frankfurt Kevin-Prince Boateng, who will actually stop after the season. Terzic judged: “He is one of those who have shown that with hard work and diligence you can achieve anything with us.”
So why not the national team? Just having appeared in her orbit can count as a success for Wolf. If he were actually nominated, it would be nothing short of amazing.
BVB: Marius Wolf and his performance data at Borussia Dortmund since 2018