Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolverhampton Wanderers
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What we love about Wolverhampton Wanderers

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up is Wolves.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We love a lot about actual wolves, but let’s take a look at the capital-W variety of Premier League title hunters.


Wolves no stranger to glory: Wolves have history. The club staged a memorable run to the inaugural UEFA Cup final in 1972 (now the Europa League). After beating Juventus in the semis, Wolves fell in a thrilling two-legged final with Spurs. Wolves returned to the tournament thrice more but only advance past the first round once. The club hunted well in the 1950s, claiming the only three top-flight crowns of its 143-year existence. The three runners-up? Maybe none will surprise given the 60-year gap, but joining Manchester United were West Bromwich Albion and Preston North End.

Wolves fell as far as the fourth-tier in the 1980s before rising back to the Premier League for its launch in the 90s, then dipping into League One for a season in 2013/14. Now Nuno Espirito Santo has the club contending in the modern equivalent of two competitions it once won: the Premier League and Europa League.

Wolverhampton Wanderers
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ John Richards (second l) fires a shot at goal in the 1972 UEFA Cup Final (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Nuno Espirito Santo’s Portuguese powers: Wolves nearly breached 100 points in their Championship-winning season and Espirito Santo’s side almost immediately adapted to the top flight with stylish football and a seventh-place finish. The side has navigated their first super congested fixture list by staying alive deep into an active Europa League run; Espirito Santo has coaxed next level performances out of club without as much depth as expected out of a European contender, and it’s reasonable to speculate they’d be in the top four with one more year’s investment (and it’s not impossible they rebound after a few months off to recharge the batteries). There are no new contract talks yet, but there’s little reason to believe he’d leave for a substandard job. Wolves have invested in becoming the next big PL club, and Espirito Santo carries plenty of love from the supporters and hierarchy.

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

The best player in CONCACAF: There is no North or Central American player anywhere near the form of Raul Jimenez right now. Christian Pulisic will want to make a claim to this soon, but El Tri’s Wolves striker is on another level. He’s already the club’s all-time leading scorer in PL matches. Not only has the 28-year-old Jimenez carved up Premier League and Europa League back lines, he’s doing it while chewing up minutes at a rate which would have many star strikers raising a white flag. Only Conor Coady, Joao Moutinho, and Rui Patricio have played more minutes for Wolves than Jimenez’s 3,564 in all competitions. All he’s done is score 22 goals with 10 assists. He’s roasting CONCACAF, too. Jimenez has 10 goals and six assists since the start of 2018, including five and four in Mexico’s six-match run to the Gold Cup crown. There is zero debate of his class amongst Mexican players.

(Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Report: Real Madrid weighing up summer move for Wolves’ Raul Jimenez

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Raul Jimenez may be on his way back to Madrid, Spain this summer.

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ star striker is reportedly garnering interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid ahead of the summer transfer window, according to Spanish outlet Don Balón.

With Luka Jovic, who may be loaned out this summer in order to get minutes, and Mariano struggling to make wholesale impact as secondary options to Karim Benzema, Zinedine Zidane and company are reportedly weighing up a lucrative summer bid for the the former Atletico Madrid striker.

The 28-year-old Mexican has proven to be indispensable for Nuno Espirito Santo this season, scoring 22 goals and recording 10 assists in 44 matches across all competitions. In the 2018-2019 season, Jimenez registered 13 Premier League goals and eight assists, prompting Wolves to shell out a club-record $42 million purchase option via a loan agreement with Benfica.

Featuring 27 times for Los Colchoneros from 2014 to 2015, Jimenez, if a move to the Santiago Bernabeu were to materialize, would be the second Mexican to play for both Madrid giants, with Hugo Sanchez being the other. The striker would become the third Mexican to play for Los Blancos, joining Sanchez and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who was on loan with the La Liga side during the 2014-15 season.

Last December, the Mexico international told Marca that he wouldn’t rule out a return to Spain’s top-flight, if the option were to arise: “No, never. I had a good experience there and I would like to go back at some point and try things again in La Liga. It is not something to rule out.”

Wolves’ on-loan striker Patrick Cutrone tests positive for coronavirus

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Wolves striker Patrick Cutrone, currently on loan at Fiorentina, has tested positive for coronavirus.

Patrick Cutrone, 22, left Wolves for Fiorentina in the January transfer window on an 18-month loan deal after arriving at the Premier League club last summer from AC Milan.

In a statement, Fiorentina confirmed the Italian international striker is one of four people tested positive for COVID-19.

Cutrone, German Pezzella and physio Stefano Dainelli all have coronavirus as Dusan Vlahovic had earlier tested positive for the virus.

“Patrick Cutrone, German Pezzella and physiotherapist Stefano Dainelli underwent tests, as they were showing some symptoms. All three [were] positive and are in good health at their homes in Florence.”

More coronavirus connections to soccer:

Europa League: Wolves draw 1st leg; USMNT’s Brooks scores (video)

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in Europe’s “other” club competition, the Europa League…

[ MORE: Arteta tests positive for coronavirus | PL to hold emergency meeting ]

Two games involving Italian clubs — Inter Milan v. Getafe and Sevilla v. Roma — were postponed after Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, was placed under national quarantine. Makeup dates for those games are unknown at this time.

[ MORE: Man United cruise to 5-0 lead in Europa League last-16 (video) ]

Olympiacos 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves still have every hope of reaching the quarterfinals after securing a 1-1 away draw with Olympiacos, though they won’t necessarily be thrilled by the order in which the game unfolded.

Olympiacos went down to 10 men after Ruben Semedo was sent off in the 28th minute, but the Greek powerhouse was first on the scoreboard anyway. Youssef El-Arabi, who scored the dramatic winner two weeks ago at Arsenal, put his side ahead in the 54th minute.

Pedro Neto‘s equalizer wasn’t the prettiest goal ever scored, but manager Nuno Espirito Santo will take the deflected free kick 100 times out of 100 and head back to Molineux Stadium expecting to reach the next round, should the competition continue to be played in a week’s time.

 

Wolfsburg 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

Wolfsburg suffered a 2-1 home defeat which puts them in a precarious position to reach the quarterfinals, but it was better news for U.S. men’s national team fans.

USMNT defender John Brooks is back from being benched and making an impact once again. The 27-year-old headed home a corner kick in the 48th minute to bring Wolfsburg level (until Shakhtar bagged the winner in the 73rd).

Full Europa League scoreboard

LASK 0-5 Manchester United — FULL RECAP
Olympiacos 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Rangers 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen
Wolfsburg 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Basel
Istanbul Basaksehir 1-0 Copenhagen
Inter Milan v. Getafe — postponed
Sevilla v. Roma — postponed

Live, Europa League: LASK v. Man United, Olympiacos v. Wolves headlines

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Five of the six UEFA Europa League games will go ahead behind close doors across Europe on Thursday as the Round of 16 first legs, quite remarkably, will take place with Man United and Wolves in action.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

With the coronavirus outbreak impacting much of Europe heavily, special conditions are in place for Europa League games as two have been called off with Inter Milan v. Getafe and Sevilla v. Roma postponed due to travel restrictions between Italy and Spain.

The two Premier League clubs who remain in the Europa League, Man United and Wolves, travel to LASK in Austria and Olympiacos in Greece for their respective first legs but both games will be played in empty stadiums.

Wolves have issued a statement criticizing UEFA after they wanted their game at Olympiacos to be postponed due to Olympiacos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis being diagnosed with coronavirus. Olympiacos have since confirmed all of their staff and players have been tested and their tests have come back as negative and the game will be played in an empty stadium in Greece.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Nuno Espirito Santo will see this competition as a great way to secure Champions League qualification given the congested nature of the top four battle in the Premier League and both Man United and Wolves have taken this competition very seriously, albeit with a bit of squad rotation especially in United’s case. Both United and Wolves are heavily favored to advance to the Europa League quarterfinals are United are the favorites and Wolves the third favorites (behind Inter Milan) to win the whole thing.

Looking elsewhere there is what looks like a lopsided battle between Bayer Leverkusen and Steven Gerrard‘s Rangers as the German side continue their uptick in form, while Rangers have struggled in the Scottish Premiership after they knocked out Braga in the last round. Their game at Ibrox is the only one scheduled to have fans in attendance.

Eintracht Frankfurt against Basel will be an intriguing clash, so too will Istanbul Basaksehir v. Copenhagen as the former have the likes of Demba BaMartin Skrtel and Gael Clichy in their squad. Wolfsburg v. Shakthar Donetsk also takes place with the German side favorites to advance.

Below is the schedule in full for Thursday’s Europa League games, while you can click on the link above to follow all the action live and we will have analysis on Man United and Wolves right here on ProSoccerTalk.


Thursday’s UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg schedule

LASK Linz v. Man United – 1:55 p.m. ET
Eintracht Frankfurt v. FC Basel – 1:55 p.m. ET
Istanbul Basaksehir v. Copenhagen – 1:55 p.m. ET
Olympiacos v. Wolves – 4 p.m. ET
Bayer Leverkusen v. Glasgow Rangers – 4 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Shakhtar Donetsk – 4 p.m. ET
Inter Milan v. Getafe – Postponed
Sevilla v. Roma – Postponed