Wolverhampton Wanderers will play Championship side Stoke City in a friendly match today, and fans will be eager to see head coach Bruno Lage’s ideas.

So far the club have played three official pre-season games since the coach’s arrival – against Crewe Alexandra, Real Betis and Las Palmas.

Wolverhampton Wanderers Pre-Season Training Camp
SAN PEDRO DE ALCANTARA, SPAIN – JULY 23: Bruno Lage, Manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers (Photo by Jack Thomas – WWFC/Wolves via Getty Images)

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Whilst these fixtures are primarily in place to build players’ fitness, Lage will surely hope that the team adopt his philosophy as soon as possible.

After all, the signs suggest that Wolves will play with a much higher tempo, defensive line and chance creation than they are used to.

However, if the club want to make a fast start in the league, then there is little margin for error. Wolves begin with Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United as their opening three games.

Bearing that in mind, today’s game against Championship side Stoke could be an excellent indicator as to where Wolves are at under Lage.

Wolves to face fired-up Stoke

It should be stated that the Potters are not Wolves’ toughest test on paper. Last Saturday they won 1-0 against Real Betis, who finished sixth in La Liga.

However, the Spanish side have a long injury-list and Stoke are in excellent form. Wolves’ rivals Aston Villa discovered this first hand, losing 2-0 to the Potters last Saturday.

 

When Lage’s side arrive at the Bet365 stadium today, it will be against their toughest English opponents so far. Their only English opposition so far was Crewe Alexandra, and they lost 1-0.

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Most importantly, it will be the closest full squad Wolves will have since Lage’s arrival. The likes of Conor Coady, Leander Dendoncker and Adama Traore have returned from their Euro 2020 exploits.

Additionally Wolves can expect a much more similar atmosphere to their Premier League fixtures. Tomorrow’s attendance is going to easily surpass what they had in Marbella.

Which ideas will Bruno Lage test?

Firstly, fans will be hoping to see Wolves play with more intensity than they did in Spain. In their game against Las Palmas, Wolves struggled to adjust to the Mediterranean climate and gave the ball away cheaply.

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Secondly, it will be interesting to see how Wolves act in the final third with two wingers on the pitch. That is, if Lage opts to use Traore and Francisco Trincao simultaneously. Will they play in and around the box? Or will they stay out wide and cross from deep?

If Traore is deployed on the left, it leaves a question mark over Rayan Ait-Nouri. Is he preferred to Marcal? If so, it means Wolves will be looking to exploit the flanks to great effect. Alternatively, Marcal starting may mean Wolves drop into a back-three when Semedo pushes forward from right-back.

Then there is the forwards conundrum. Among Patrick Cutrone, Raul Jimenez and Fabio Silva, which two start?

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One thing to bear in mind is that Wolves play Coventry City on Sunday which may see a few players rested.

Nevertheless, there seems everything to play for in a pre-season that marks a fresh start.

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