Veteran Ivica Olic signs up for Wolfsburg′s European aims | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 25.04.2014
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Veteran Ivica Olic signs up for Wolfsburg's European aims

Many predicted the Croatian striker would wave farewell to the Bundesliga. But after signing for another two years, Olic continues to be crucial in bagging points to take Wolfsburg closer to the Champions League.

This week, Bayern Munich returned to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium - the scene of their 2010 Champions League final defeat to Inter Milan. While it was far from Ivica Olic's finest hour on that balmy evening in May, the Croatian forward was integral to the club's progress through the competition.

Ivica Olic scores hat-trick in Lyon in Champions League 2010 semi-finals.

Olic's hat-trick took Bayern to the 2010 Champions League final.

He contributed seven goals in 10 matches under the stewardship of Dutch coach Louis van Gaal. Perhaps his foremost performance, though, came in the semifinals in Lyon where he gave the French side a thrilling lesson in clinical finishing, netting a hat-trick. What a contrast from the team in Red in Madrid almost four years on at the same stage.

Olic - now 34-years-old - has been rolling back the years lately. He has been rewarded by VfL Wolfsburg for his four goals in their last five matches with a new two-year extension; meaning the striker is expected to bring an end to his playing days in Volkswagen's "Autostadt."

He has scored 13 goals overall this season in the Bundesliga, aiding Wolfsburg's chase for the fourth, and final, UEFA Champions League spot. The club agreed to hand the striker, with 64 Bundesliga goals to his name, a new contract to keep him at the Volkswagen Arena until 2016.

"I am delighted to finally have clarity for my future and that I can continue playing for VfL Wolfsburg," Olic told the club's official website. "Next season we want to give our all both in the Bundesliga and on the European stage. It's a lot of fun to be a part of this team and my family is very happy here too."

Meanwhile, sporting director Klaus Allofs reassured the Croatian frontman about his overall playing role, amid rumors about a possible swoop for Hannover's Mame Biram Diouf.

"When a key player such as Ivica Olic, who is being courted by other clubs both nationally and internationally, decides to continue his career in Wolfsburg, it is proof to us that the direction we have taken has also convinced the players," he said.

Allofs maintained Olic would be a "very important part of the jigsaw" for next season.

European qualification looks likely, but the target is fourth - and a return to the UEFA Champions League. Wolfsburg, who lie in fifth position on 53 points, are one behind Bayer Leverkusen, and four ahead of Borussia Mönchengladbach in sixth with three games left.

Freiburg players celebrate a goal against Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Gladbach's captain Filip Daems (in the foreground) displays grasps his head in frustration.

Having lamed the Foals, Freiburg are now hunting Wolves

The Foals were dealt a painful blow last Saturday by Wolfsburg's opponents this weekend, SC Freiburg, who came away with three points and a 4-2 victory.

Dangerous opposition

If you take the form-table from the previous seven matches, the Wovles would be third best in the league. Freiburg, however, would be second having practically ensured their safety from the dreaded relegation trap door.

Christian Streich's attack-heavy team scored four goals after the break in a relentless combination of speed, intense pressing and composure in front of Marc-Andre ter Stegen's goal. Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking therefore thinks their opponents will be beaming with confidence, which could pose a threat to his club's European aspirations.

"We have built up a head of steam now, because the chance of finishing in fourth place is still there," Hecking said. "Freiburg have enjoyed a good latter half of the season and they have proven that they possess the quality needed to remain in the top flight."

Both teams have problems at one end of the pitch: Wolfsburg are without Diego Benaglio, the club captain, whilst Freiburg are working hard to convince Oliver Baumann not to join Hoffenheim in the summer.

At the other end, things are going swimmingly well; the fluid and youthful attacking setup of Freiburg is now showing the same efficiency that led to a fifth-place finish last season.

For Wolfsburg, there's no need to teach the old dog some new tricks, not least as Olic has long been lauded as a versatile striker able to deliver much more than goals. Given the youthfulness of the Wolves' midfield, perhaps the veteran can impart a lessonJudging by this season's form, there's more to come from the veteran ahead of one of the league's most youthful midfields.

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