Wout Weghorst has fired Wolfsburg into the UEFA Europa League for the second season running. - © DFL/Getty Images/Boris Streubel
Wout Weghorst has fired Wolfsburg into the UEFA Europa League for the second season running. - © DFL/Getty Images/Boris Streubel
bundesliga

Wout Weghorst driving Wolfsburg to within reach of Europa League group stage

It is not often that teams look forward to facing the Bundesliga champions, but Wolfsburg will head into their final-day clash with Bayern Munich in confident mood, thanks to the goals of Wout Weghorst.

The Dutchman took his tally to 16 for the season with a brace in the Wolves' impressive 4-1 win at Schalke on Matchday 33, a result which secured them UEFA Europa League football next season.

“It’s a great feeling for me to be there in the important matches," Weghorst told bundesliga.com after the final whistle. "It gives me a really good feeling and shows that I’m growing as a player.”

Whether they will start their European campaign in the second half of September or the second half of October will be determined on the final day of the season, but with Weghorst firing on all cylinders, the chances of Oliver Glasner's men having a marginally longer break this summer are looking good.

Watch: Wout Weghorst under the tactical microscope

The equation is quite straightforward: Wolfsburg must get a better result against Bayern than seventh-placed Hoffenheim obtain from their trip to Borussia Dortmund.

In simple terms, a win for the Wolves and they have a Europa League group stage berth sealed, a draw will do if Hoffenheim fail to win at Signal Iduna Park, while defeat would suffice if the Sinsheimers come back from Westphalia with their tails between their legs.

"Of course, it's a big goal for us to play in Europe again," Weghorst told bundesliga.com recently. "For me as a player, those matches on a European level are important; important for your development and to become a better player, and they're nice games, so you want to play them.

"We have everything in our own hands to achieve Europe and to finish sixth in the table. If we can do that, we can be absolutely satisfied."

With five goals in his past four outings, moving Weghorst onto 16 for the season and making him only the second Dutchman after Roy Makaay to exceed 15 goals in each of his first two Bundesliga campaigns, the arithmetic certainly seems to add up to a second straight sixth-placed finish for Wolfsburg.

Maybe the Dutchman, who reached another landmark by breaking through a century of career goals with his double in Gelsenkirchen, can also match or even better his 17 goals from last term.

He has beaten Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer before, with his third goal in German football coming against the record champions, although he is starting to see his own contribution a little differently.

Watch: Weghorst: "I'm growing as a player"

"I'm not only looking at the goals, but my play; how important I am for the team, my own development of course, and I think I've taken good steps forward," Weghorst said. "I just try to develop myself every season – every week again, actually – and I'm satisfied with that. It's a little bit the same as how I sum up our team, I had some really good spells and some when it could've been better.

"Like I said for the team, it's the same for me, I'm heading in the right direction."

If that direction is Europa League football for the second season running, a Weghorst-inspired Wolfsburg are certainly on the right track.