WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Wolfsburg hopes it will not come to regret the two goals it conceded in the final 10 minutes in Gent in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 showdown.
The German side was three goals up and cruising until Sven Kums and Kalifa Coulibaly scored late to revive Gent’s hopes.
Wolfsburg central defender Dante, who played in Belgium in the early days of his career, said the comeback by Gent should serve as a warning.
“We must look at the last 10 minutes of that match again. Then we’ll know what kind of a performance we’ll need to produce to progress,” the Brazilian said.
Neither Wolfsburg nor Gent has been in the Round of 16 before, so a place in the quarterfinals would be a first for either team.
“We must approach this one as a completely new game. We can’t just afford to defend our advantage, but rather play attacking football and get at least one goal,” said Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels, who is Belgian. “In Gent we saw that they can play football and that we should not underestimate them.”
Midfielder Josuha Guilavogui is clear about what needs to be done.
“It’s quite simple: We have to win the game in order to take our quarterfinal place,” he said.
Here are some things to know ahead of Tuesday’s match in Wolfsburg:
Wolfsburg will be without first-choice goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, who has a rib injury, and defender Naldo, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.
Julian Draxler hurt his knee, Max Kruse sustained a thigh bruise and Maximilian Arnold got a shin knock in the weekend’s 2-1 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach.
But coach Dieter Hecking wasn’t too concerned.
“The Champions League heals all wounds,” Hecking said.
Draxler confirmed his coach’s therapy.
“Your legs run by themselves on occasions like that,” the midfielder said.
SCHUERRLE FINDING FORM
Andre Schuerrle is beginning to find his form just as the season enters its decisive stage. The Germany forward, who spent a lot of time on the bench despite being one of the club’s most expensive signings, scored a hat trick against Hannover although he did not find the net over the weekend in the 2-1 win over Moenchengladbach. In the 33 Bundesliga matches before Hannover, Schuerrle had scored only two goals.
“A lot has been written and a lot has been said — I think that was a clear answer on my behalf,” Schuerrle said. “That really does me good.”
Wolfsburg sporting director Klaus Allofs was happy to see the forward finally start to score goals.
“André Schuerrle got on the score sheet, and you could see the sort of stability that can bring,” Allofs said. “But every individual has improved.”
Schuerrle’s improving form is a good sign for Germany coach Joachim Loew ahead of the European Championship in France this summer.
Schuerrle’s fellow striker Bas Dost is out for the season with a broken left foot.
Reaching the Champions League quarterfinals might help Wolfsburg rescue an otherwise forgettable season. The team went into the campaign with raised expectations after winning the German Cup — beating Bayern Munich in the process — and finishing runner-up to Bayern in the Bundesliga.
But a string of inconsistent performance left Wolfsburg an also-ran, struggling to even make it into the Europa League slots.
The last two wins have brought Dieter Hecking’s team to within two points of a berth in Europe.
Gent has faced German opposition only twice before and won away from home each time. In the 1991-92 UEFA Cup second round Gent drew 0-0 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt and won 1-0 away. In the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup third round, Gent won 3-2 at Werder Bremen and after losing 1-0 at home, went through on away goals.
Despite that record, Gent coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck has given his team a “zero per cent” chance of reaching the last eight.
Wolfsburg might start to panic if Gent scores first, Vanhaezebrouck said.
“I still think they have more class. But we won’t give up and I expect my players to prove me wrong,” he said.