This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Wolves are back in Europa League action this week, 14 days after their disappointing defeat to Braga at Molineux which kickstarted the group stages.
They have worked ever so hard to reach this point by winning all six qualification games, and that run started before the Premier League season had even got underway – a time where plenty of other clubs were still enjoying pre-season.
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Now they set out on their first away day of the group campaign with a trip to Besiktas, who themselves will be looking to put behind an embarrassing defeat as Slovan Bratislava netted twice in injury time to clinch all three points.
Most shockingly, their domestic form has taken a gigantic hit with just one win in six matches this term, putting them in one of the three relegation places.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t have a threat. In fact, there is one man Wolves will need to be very wary of.
On the Chalkboard
Adem Ljajic has been the Black Eagles’ dangerman so far this season.
The 28-year-old has netted two goals across the Super Lig and the Europa League while also providing three assists.
In the league alone, he averages 49 passes per game, 3.4 of which are key passes, meaning he is at the focal point of pretty much everything they do – particularly in attack where he is recording 1.8 dribbles and 2.2 shots per match, via WhoScored.
His primary position is as a central attacking midfielder, but he can sometimes line up on either flank.
With him being the crucial instigator to Beskitas’ attack, it makes sense for Conor Coady to be the man that can thwart his advances.
The Wolves skipper plays a crucial role in the centre of defence which allows him to come forward slightly as the ball-playing defender or even drop back as a sweeper.
A lot of Nuno Santo’s system runs through the 26-year-old, and that’s reflected in his 41.3 average passes per game – not too much of a surprise considering he used to be a midfielder himself.
Coady has been a mainstay in defence for the last few seasons having made a minimum of 37 league appearances each year at Molineux.
This term he is averaging 3.9 clearances and 1.7 tackles per match which could suggest he’s more than capable of battling it out with Ljajic.
Another thing on his side is his ability to not concede so many fouls at 0.6 per game, but he can be exposed to the odd dribble – 1.1 times per match on average, so he will need to be very, very careful on Thursday night.