Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking conceded his side’s hopes of UEFA Europa League progression are slim on Thursday, but reflected on a positive campaign for his men.
Hecking led the Volkswagen Arena outfit to the last eight of a European competition for the first time since 2009-10, but they are on the brink of a swift exit after a 4-1 home loss to Napoli in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.
Ahead of the second leg at Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo on Thursday, Hecking was realistic about Wolfsburg’s chances – but could not help but believe in the dream turnaround.
“Unfortunately, last week we had a game with a bad referee, an unlucky early deficit and where Napoli then controlled the game because we lost our cool,” Hecking said.
“Those are very important experiences a team has to deal with.
“Of course I hope and expect that you can see tomorrow that the team learned from that game.
“We want to get to the level where every little mistake will be punished and again for all the German journalists who saw Bayern yesterday. Pep Guardiola was mad after the goal by Jackson Martinez at 5-1 in the 84th minute and he had the chance to score a second. That’s what it’s about.
“Wolfsburg has to comprehend that. We, as coaches, have to teach the team and the team has to embrace it. Then we can talk about us being a very good team.
“That some people are still giving us a chance down 4-1 in Naples speaks volumes, even if it would be a miracle.
“We worked hard for such a reputation and I think we can show tomorrow that we earned this reputation. Even if we don’t advance, this Europa League season brought us a lot.”
Hecking said his side had to hope Rafa Benitez’s men put in a poor performance.
“The problems we have were made by ourselves in the first leg. The conditions could be better for us tomorrow,” the 50-year-old said.
“I was asked several times if we believe in the miracle of Naples. The chances are minimal but in football anything could happen.
“If we stay focused and Napoli perhaps won’t, then we have a chance. But yes, the chances aren’t the best.”
Wolfsburg will be without midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and forward Andre Schurrle for the clash, after picking up injuries in their 1-1 Bundesliga draw to Schalke on Sunday.