Wolves Facing Tough Balancing Act

Wolves Facing Tough Balancing Act

Wolves have already played eight competitive matches this season as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side try to juggle life both domestically and in Europe.

It is a common perception that teams playing Thursday night football in the Europa League find it difficult to maintain their form domestically, particularly sides like Wolves, who are currently trying to negotiate their third qualifying round tie just to reach the group stage of the continent’s secondary competition.

Nuno’s side certainly look well placed to reach the group stage, as they hold a 3-2 first-leg advantage over Serie A outfit Torinio ahead of this week’s return match at Molineux.

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Wolves have actually won all five of their matches in Europe this season, but it could be argued the extra workload is already having an adverse effect on their Premier League form, as they have started the new domestic campaign with three successive draws.

However, the first two of those stalemates are likely to be regarded as positive results, as only a debatable VAR decision denied them all three points at Leicester on the opening weekend, while a home draw with Manchester United is usually seen as a positive score – although the Red Devils’ weekend defeat to Crystal Palace may now suggest otherwise.

Those results were certainly respectable for Wolves, but perhaps their 1-1 draw with Burnley at Molineux on Sunday was the first sign that they are starting to find juggling their extra workload tough going.

Nuno’s side needed a debateable 90th-minute penalty to salvage a share of the spoils against the Clarets and, although is preserved their unbeaten start to the season, it does leave them down in 15th place.

If Wolves do make it through to the group stage of the Europa League then juggling both competitions is going to become even more difficult.

Wolves’ success last season was built on a settled team, as Nuno was reluctant to make too many alterations to his line-up, with only 18 players earning a start in the Premier League.

The Portuguese coach was also reserved in his substitutions, but he has already had to change that philosophy this season due to the extra workload, as he made six alterations to his starting XI for the game against Burnley from the side that faced Torino.

Ironically Burnley encountered the same problems last season when they were in the Europa League, as they went from finishing seventh in the Premier League to being involved in a relegation battle.

Wolves certainly have a stronger team and squad then Burnley did, but perhaps the rigours of a first European campaign in 39 years will mean Nuno’s side will have to sacrifice some of their league form and a lower-half finish could well be on the cards.

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