Diogo Jota

In Profile: City's Opening Opponents, Wolves

Leicester City will face Wolverhampton Wanderers on the opening day of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign on Sunday.
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For the second year running, the Foxes will play their first home match of the season against Nuno Espírito Santo’s men, who impressed during their return to the top flight in 2018/19.

Their first Premier League season in six years resulted in a seventh-place finish, alongside a run to the Emirates FA Cup Semi-Finals, where they were narrowly beaten in extra-time by Watford at Wembley Stadium.

With Wolves first up for the Foxes on Sunday 11 August (2pm BST kick-off), here’s a low down of City’s first opponents of the new season… 

The manager

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Nuno Espírito Santo
Nuno Espírito Santo

Nuno Espírito Santo has taken Wolves from the Championship to European football.

A former goalkeeper for Vitória Guimarães – the club City right-back Ricardo Pereira used to play for – Nuno Espírito Santo’s career as a professional footballer saw him play in Portugal, Spain and Russia.

His first managerial appointment saw him take charge of Portuguese outfit Rio Ave, before season-long spells at Spanish outfit Valencia and former club FC Porto led to a maiden job in England with Wolves.

During his first season in charge, the 45-year-old guided the West Midlands outfit to Premier League promotion at the first time of asking as his side accumulated 99 points to win the Championship title.

While Wolves did not record a victory during their first three Premier League games in 2018/19 – a run which included a 2-0 defeat by City – four wins and two draws against Manchester United and Burnley saw them concede only one goal in those six outings.

They eventually went on to finish seventh in the table, with season highlights including memorable triumphs over Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Manchester United in the Premier League and Emirates FA Cup.

The squad

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Wolves finished seventh as they made an impressive return to England's top flight and are this season competing to quality for the Europa League.

A combination of flamboyant attackers and gifted midfielders is often complimented with a back five including two wing-backs and three centre-backs, which operates in front of reliable Portugal international goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

Mexican Raúl Jiménez’s haul of 13 goals and seven assists prompted Wolves to secure the striker on a permanent deal in April following his successful spell while on loan from Benfica.

Following his injury-time winner against the Foxes back in January, Diogo Jota is another key member of the Wolves squad and is only the second Portuguese ever to score a Premier League hat-trick following Cristiano Ronaldo’s treble over a decade earlier.

In midfield, the experienced João Moutinho topped the charts for Wolves in 2018/19 in terms of assists (eight) and tackles (113), while he will no doubt remember his first goal for the club – a sublime strike against Manchester United at Old Trafford in September.

The quartet of Patricio, Rúben Neves, Moutinho and Jota will return from their summers as winners of the inaugural UEFA Nations League, with three of them featuring in the final victory over the Netherlands. Summer signings, meanwhile, include the likes of Patrick Cutrone and Jesús Vallejo.

The trophy cabinet

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1960 FA Cup winners
1960 FA Cup winners

Wolves won their fourth FA Cup in 1960 after sharing the trophy with Burnley.

Wolves have been named champions of England on three occasions – in 1954, 1958 and 1959 and have finished runners-up a further five times.

They have won all of England’s top four tiers at least once and have also experienced cup success, lifting the FA Cup four times and the League Cup on two occasions.

Further accolades include four Charity Shields, now the Community Shield – three of which were shared with Portsmouth, West Bromwich Albion and Burnley.

On the European front, they were beaten 3-2 over two legs in the final of the 1972 UEFA Cup by a Tottenham side managed by the much-respected Bill Nicholson.

The stadium

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Molineux Stadium
Molineux Stadium

Wolves have recently announced plans to expand the 31,500-seater stadium.

Molineux Stadium has been the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers since 1889 and, since a series of significant developments during three different decades, is now capable of holding approximately 31,500 fans.

In February 2019, the club revealed plans for two separate phases of stadium expansion, with the first increasing Molineux’s capacity by 5,500, while a long-term target is to reach a capacity of 45,000-46,000.

The fixtures

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Raúl Jiménez
Raúl Jiménez

Wolves' 2018/19 season ended with a 2-0 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield.

Before heading to Leicester, Wolves travel to Armenia to tackle FC Pyunik in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening.

In addition to their season-opener at King Power Stadium, they face a home encounter with Manchester United a week later, and head to Goodison Park to take on Everton to complete their August fixtures.

Encounters with Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Liverpool follow in December, while they end their 2019/20 season with a clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

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