by Ian S. Palmer
Gent of Belgium will be attempting to overcome a 3-2 deficit in its two-legged European Champions League round-of-16 clash against German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg in Germany this week on Tuesday, March 8. The first contest of the home and away series took place at KAA Gent Stadium in Ghent on February 17th with Wolfsburg leaving town with a huge road win. Gent has some injury problems and could be missing the likes of Matton, Dejaegere, L. Nielsen, and Milicevic while Wolfsburg could be without Dost, Young, Seguin, Naldo and Benaglio.
- Pinnacle currently lists Wolfsburg as the favorites to win the 90-minute game at -186 with Gent +570 and a draw at +354
Gent needs to win at least 3-2 to force extra time according to the away-goals rule. A 1-0 or 2-1 victory won’t do, but any one-goal win with the score higher than 3-2 will see the Belgian side advance. Of course, Gent will also reach the quarterfinals if they win the game by two goals or more. Wolfsburg appeared to have ended the series in the first match after building up a 3-0 lead, but Gent fought back with a pair of goals in the last 10 minutes to keep their chances alive.
Gent finished the group stage in second place in Group H behind Zenit St. Petersburg of Russia. The Belgian club had three wins, a draw and two losses for 10 points with eight goals scored and seven allowed. Valencia of Spain and Olympique Lyonnais of France were also in the group. Meanwhile, Wolfsburg raced up 12 points to win Group B on four victories and a pair of losses. They scored nine times and conceded six. Other teams in the group were PSV Eindhoven of Holland, English Premier League giants Manchester United and CSKA Moscow of Russia.
Gent won the Belgian title last season and is currently sitting in second place in the nation’s Jupiler League. They’ve played 29 games and have 17 wins, eight draws and four losses for 59 points. They’ve scored 55 goals and allowed 28 against and are two points behind Club Brugge. They drew 1-1 at home with Leuven in their last match on Friday. Wolfsburg is struggling in the Bundesliga as the German team has just 37 points and is occupying seventh place in the 18-club league. They have 10 wins, seven draws and eight defeats with 38 goals scored and 32 allowed.
Both Wolfsburg and Gent are playing in the knockout stages for the first time and this is the first time Gent has reached the European Champions League. Gent drew 1-1 against Olympique Lyonnais at home and then edged Valencia 1-0 and FC Zenit 2-1. They’ve met German clubs just twice in their history and won both series, which were against Eintracht Frankfurt the UEFA Cup in 1991/92 and in the Intertoto Cup in 2001 against Werder Bremen. Wolfsburg lost 2-1 to Manchester United FC in the group stage and were downed 2-0 in Eindhoven, but managed to beat CSKA Moscow 2-0 away. This will be their first meeting against a Belgian club in European competition.
Gent has added Gustav Wikheim, Lucas Deaux and Rami Gershon to the Champions League squad while Benito Raman, Erik Johansson, Nicklas Pedersen, Marko Poletanovic and Uros Vitas have left. In addition, defender Naldo will return to the team after missing the first leg due to a suspension. Wolfsburg has added Ismail Azzaoui, Bruno Henrique, Jannes Horn, Robin Ziegele and Leandro Putaro to the squad and has dropped Timm Klose and Francisco Rodriguez.
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