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Bundesliga News

Turn back time to ... When Dzeko and Grafite fired Wolfsburg to an unforgettable title

By Rune Gjerulff

Do you remember when the unstoppable offensive trio of Zvjezdan Misimović, Edin Džeko and Grafite led Wolfsburg to their first Bundesliga title ever?

Edin Dzeko celebrates after winning the championship.
Edin Dzeko celebrates after winning the championship.

On the 4th of April 2009, Brazilian striker Grafite arguably scored one of the most memorable and unique goals in the history of the Bundesliga. Felix Magath’s Wolfsburg team was tearing the mighty Bayern München apart at Volkswagen-Arena and were leading by 4-1 when Grafite received the ball outside the penalty area.

After a few touches, Grafite cleverly managed to cut inside between Bayern defenders Andreas Ottl and Christian Lell. Keeper Michael Rensing then came out of his goal, so the Brazilian dribbled around him to the right. Then, with the back against the goal, he finished off with a cheeky backheel that made the ball roll slowly past Bayern defenders Philipp Lahm and Breno and into the goal. An unforgettable way to round off a 5-1 win that led Wolfsburg a step closer to winning their first Bundesliga title ever.

However, after the first half of the season, it wasn’t exactly on the cards that Wolfsburg would go on to win the Bundesliga as Felix Magath’s team was ninth in the table. But after drawing 1-1 with FC Köln in January, ‘Die Wölfe’ went on to win as many as 10 league games in a row. In stark contrast to Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim and Bayern München, who were the leading teams by January, both started out dreadfully in January and dropped a lot of points during the second half of the season.

Wolfsburg grabbed the first place for the first time when the team beat Bayern 5-1 and held on to it for the rest of the season. However, it wasn’t until after the final game of the season Wolfsburg could be crowned champions. Felix Magath’s troops finished off in style by beating Werder Bremen 5-1. Offensive midfielder Zvjezdan Misimović scored the first goal while the striking duo Grafite and Edin Dzeko got two each. As so many times before, the deadly offensive trio was behind the victory.

Grafite ended the season as Bundesliga topscorer with impressive 28 goals in just 25 games and was a part of an extremely efficient offensive trio along the two bosnians, striking partner Edin Dzeko and offensive midfielder Zvjezdan Misimović.

Dzeko netted 26 times during the season which means the pair put the ball in the back of the net 54 times in total – 67,5 percent of Wolfsburg’s total Bundesliga goal that season. Of the 54 goals, 13 were assisted by Misimovic who played just behind the striker duo. In total, the Bosnian magician got 20 assists and also scored seven goals himself.

Apart from the front trio, the Wolfsburg team also contained players such as the Brazilian defensive midfielder and captain Josué, the flexible Christian Gentner, the current Juventus central defender Andrea Barzagli as well as keeper Diego Benaglio.

After the season, the highly successful coach Felix Magath decided to leave Wolfsburg for Schalke 04. Even though the offensive trio stayed, ‘Die Wölfe’ had a disappointing 2009-10 season at the hands of new coach Armin Veh who ended up getting sacked in January with Lorenz-Günther Köstner taking over.

In the Bundesliga, Dzeko (Bundesliga topscorer with 22 goals, 9 assists), Misimovic (10 goals, 15 assists) and Grafite (11 goals, 3 assists) still produced plenty of goals, although not as many, but they couldn’t save Wolfsburg from a disappointing final position as number eight. In the Champions League, the team took a third place in their group and was transferred to the Europa League where Wolfsburg eventually lost to Fulham in the quarter-finals.

Wolfsburg didn’t stay at the top for long and may not win another Bundesliga title in the foreseeable future, but the memories from the magical 2008-09 season – and that cheeky backheel goal from Grafite – will always remain.

The Wolfsburg team that beat Bayern 5-1 (4-1-2-1-2):

Lineup: Diego Benaglio - Peter Pekarik, Jan Simunek, Andrea Barzagli, Marcel Schäfer - Josué - Sascha Riether, Christian Gentner - Zvjezdan Misimovic - Edin Dzeko, Grafite.

Bench: Andre Lenz, Cristian Zaccardo, Ricardo Costa, Alexander Madlung, Yoshito Okubo, Ashkan Dejagah, Alexander Esswein.

Manager: Felix Magath.

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