Wolfsburg - If the first ever Bundesliga encounter between VfL Wolfsburg and Fortuna Düsseldorf on Matchday 9 was anything to go by, you'd be well advised to grab the popcorn when the duo renew hostilities to get Matchday 26 underway on Friday (kick-off 20:30 CET).
After a first half of shadow-boxing in late October, the contest exploded into life, with five goals, two penalties and a sending-off all crammed into the second 45 minutes. And with both sides desperately trying to keep a healthy distance between themselves and the relegation zone, Friday's clash at the Volkswagen Arena promises to be no less of a spectacle.
Something will have to give in a tie that pits the league's second-worst home side (ten points from twelve games) against the third-poorest visitors (eight points from twelve). Still basking in the afterglow of a ruthless 5-2 thrashing of European hopefuls SC Freiburg last week, Wolfsburg will be confident they will be the ones improving their record on the night.
"We want to maintain the momentum from that game to help us pick up three points against Düsseldorf," said midfielder , who has started all but two of the Wolves' games under new boss Dieter Hecking.
Not even the absences of suspended playmaker Diego and injured midfielder Ivan Perisic have dampened the optimism in the Wolfsburg camp. Given the way several others, most notably and stepped up to the mark in some style at Freiburg last Saturday, that should come as no surprise.
"I hope the team can clear their heads at home now," said Hecking. "We've always had decent spells on our own patch but we haven't been consistent enough. Now we want to take the next step forward." Nevertheless, the 48-year-old tactician warned his charges against taking their 15th-placed guests lightly. "They're a very well-organised team defensively. They're compact and close you down well. We can't afford to get impatient."
Düsseldorf may have lost for an eleventh time this term away to FC Bayern Munich last week, but their display in giving the league leaders a fright means they can justifiably approach the game with bags of self-belief as well. "We need to take the positives from that game," said coach Norbert Meier. "We scored two goals there, which is something not many teams have done. We can be proud of that."
The guests have likewise been deprived of regular starters, with Andreas Lambertz and Oliver Fink ruled out through injury. The onus now falls on players like Australian international midfielder to take over the mantle of injecting the requisite "passion" Meier demands.
Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Fagner, Madlung, Kjaer, Schäfer - Träsch, Polak - Vieirinha, Kahlenberg, Rodriguez - Olic
Düsseldorf: Giefer - Balogun, Latka, Malezas, van den Bergh - Kruse, Bodzek, Tesche, Bellinghausen - Bolly, Reisinger
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