Gent’s Brecht Dejaegere says playing in the Champions League round of 16 against Wolfsburg will be “a dream come true” as both clubs prepare for their first appearance in the knockout stages of the tournament.
The Belgian champions finished ahead of Valencia and Lyon to claim second behind Zenit and progress from Group H.
Domestic title-holders Gent responded to successive defeats at the hands of Club Brugge in the Pro League and Belgian Cup by beating Mouscron 2-0 in the league on Friday.
And Dejaegere feels that victory was vital for improving the team’s mindset ahead of the visit of Wolfsburg to Ghelamco Arena on Wednesday.
“Our win over Mouscron at the weekend was very important,” Dejaegere told the club website.
“We would have had an entirely different feeling heading into the game against Wolfsburg without the win.
“I am really looking forward to Wednesday’s game. Playing in the Champions League round of 16 is like a dream come true for any player. The atmosphere will be incredible again.”
Hannes Van Der Bruggen (adductor) and Peter Olayinka (ankle) are expected to miss out due to injury, but Moses Simon and Dejaegere appear to be ready despite picking up minor knocks at the weekend.
Wolfsburg, meanwhile, will have to make do without a number of important players, including the suspended Naldo, but Julian Draxler is confident they can build on Saturday’s 2-0 win at home to Ingolstadt by producing a positive performance in Belgium.
“We needed a good result at the weekend after some difficult weeks and we did just that. The win over Ingolstadt was a confidence boost,” he told the Wolfsburg website.
“We want to build on that against Gent. We are heading into the game with a positive feeling. Saturday’s win was a step in the right direction.
“Naldo is a very important player for us. But it is not the first time this season that we will have to deal with the absence of key players. We can succeed in doing that again on Wednesday if we stick together as a team.”
Wolfsburg will also be without injured striker Bas Dost (fractured metatarsal) and Carlos Ascues (meniscus), while Josuha Guilavogui is doubtful due to a hip problem. Andre Schurrle (adductor) missed the game against Schalke on February 6, but returned at the weekend as a second-half substitute.
This will be Gent and Wolfsburg’s first competitive encounter. The Belgian side have never beaten a German team on home soil in European competition, while they have also failed to score in their last three home games against German opposition.
However, Gent have won their last three Champions League games – all by one goal – after failing to win any of their previous three and they were one of only six teams to score in every single group-stage game this season.
Key Opta facts:
– Gent and Wolfsburg have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time in their history.
– Half of the goals conceded by Wolfsburg in this season’s Champions League have come from set-pieces (three out of six).
– Gent used 17 players in this season’s group stages, fewer than any other team. Wolfsburg used only 18.
– Only one of Wolfsburg’s 12 games in the Champions League has ended in a draw, against Besiktas in October 2009 (0-0).
– Gent’s Danijel Milicevic has been directly involved in 50 per cent of his team’s goals in the Champions League this season, scoring three times and delivering one assist.
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