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.
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
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.Embed from Getty Images
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.Embed from Getty Images
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?Embed from Getty Images
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.