- Wolfsburg impress at home, but struggle on the road.
- Hecking's men also reach Champions League last eight.
- Ended the season in a disappointing eighth.
It was a mixed campaign for VfL Wolfsburg: Dieter Hecking's side reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in club history, suffering an agonising defeat at the hands of Real Madrid CF, but ended the Bundesliga season in an unsatisfactory eighth, with the second-worst away record in the league.
Season in a nutshell
After finishing second the league and winning the DFB Cup in 2014/15, Wolfsburg's main aims for this campaign were to establish themselves as a European heavyweight and as the Bundesliga's second power behind FC Bayern München. While the Wolves enjoyed a historic run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, they will not be participating in the competition again next season after ending 2015/16 in eighth and outside of even a UEFA Europa League spot.
There were three main reasons for the eventual disappointing finish. Firstly, the early departure of Kevin De Bruyne, who supplied 20 assists and ten goals in 2014/15, hit the team hard. Secondly, while the arrivals of Dante (FC Bayern München), Julian Draxler (FC Schalke 04) and Max Kruse (Borussia Mönchengladbach) caught the eye, the trio failed to fire on all cylinders due to a combination of injury and off-field issues. Finally, the Wolves' struggles on the road cost them dear: Hecking's side picked up a mere 13 of a possible 51 points on their travels (W3 D4 L10), with only Eintracht Frankfurt ending the season with a worse record.
Top three games
MD3: VfL Wolfsburg 3-0 FC Schalke 04
MD13: VfL Wolfsburg 6-0 SV Werder Bremen
The Wolves picked up their biggest win of the season, hammering northern rivals Bremen on home turf.
MD24: Hannover 96 0-4 VfL Wolfsburg
Andre Schürrle scored his maiden Bundesliga hat-trick as Wolfsburg downed their local rivals in memorable fashion.
VfL youth product Maximilian Arnold can certainly bear no share of the blame for the Wolves' disappointing campaign. Equally adept deeper or further forward in midfield, the 21-year-old chipped in with three goals - including a crucial equaliser against Hamburger SV on Matchday 16 - and one assist, as well as constantly running himself into the ground for his club.
What is next?
It will be a big summer at Wolfsburg to ensure that eighth place becomes an exception for the ambitious northern club, rather than the rule. Once the current tour of China is over, sporting director Klaus Allofs and coach Hecking will put their heads together and aim to find a replacement for the departed Naldo (Schalke) at centre-half. Josuha Guilavogui's penning of a permanent deal is a major boost, while Draxler and Schürrle will be expected to continue their recent upward curves in form. The departure of Nicklas Bendtner means that back-up to Bas Dost up front is also likely to be high on the agenda.
For bundesliga.com reporter Jürgen Blohs, the visit of Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid to the Volkswagen Arena for the Champions League quarter-final first leg was a standout moment. Although the Wolves beat the ten-time European champions 2-0 on home turf, the Portugal international's hat-trick in the second leg meant their European adventure was over.