Wolfsburg primed for Gent test after ending poor run
By Karolos Grohmann
BERLIN (Reuters) - VfL Wolfsburg are hoping a morale-boosting Bundesliga win that ended a poor run of results will help their confidence for the Champions League last 16 first-leg game at Gent on Wednesday.
Last year's German league runners-up and Cup winners are eighth in the standings after a 2-0 victory over Ingolstadt on Saturday, their first win in eight Bundesliga games.
"We have to accept the criticism directed against us," Wolfsburg left back Marcel Schaefer said.
"The past weeks have not been as all of us had imagined them. That is why it was important to win against Ingolstadt as it was also a sign that we are prepared to fight over 90 minutes as a team."
The victory over the Bavarian club will be key for Wolfsburg's confidence as they find themselves in uncharted territory in Europe, according to coach Dieter Hecking.
"What is important is that we have now snapped our bad run," Hecking said. "We have won and that is what matters. This win can do a lot for us in the future."
Wolfsburg did not get past the group stage in their only other Champions League appearance in 2009.
Gent, in the Champions League for the first time after being crowned Belgian champions in 2015, were the surprise runners-up in Group H, beating Valencia and Zenit St. Petersburg at home as well as Olympique Lyonnais away.
They became the first Belgian side to reach the round of 16 in the Champions League since Anderlecht 15 years ago.
Gent’s recent results in the Belgian league, however, have been disappointing after finishing the first half of the season on top.
Club Bruges have caught up, beating Gent twice in quick succession, in the Cup and the league.
Gent also needed 85 minutes to struggle past bottom side Mouscron on Friday with a powerful strike by Mbark Boussoufa, who is not on their Champions League squad, and another goal from Danijel Milicevic.
Boussoufa is on loan from Lokomotiv Moscow but because of doubts over his fitness the Morocco international was not included in the Champions League squad, a decision manager Hein Vanhaezebrouck now regrets.
"Boussoufa is much better physically and mentally than I was told. It’s a shame about that list, I admit that," he said.
(Additional reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels, Editing by Ed Osmond)