Munich - Dieter Hecking comes face to face with his recent past as his VfL Wolfsburg side host 1. FC Nuremberg this Sunday (kick-off 15:30 CET).
"This is VfL Wolfsburg"
Hecking moved from Bavaria to Lower Saxony in December, but contact with his former employers has never broken down and he is looking forward to greeting some old friends to the , even if he insists there will be no room for nostalgia come the match.
“It would be a mistake to say it's Hecking versus Nuremberg," he said. "This is VfL Wolfsburg and I’m the coach here, and that's all that counts.”
The 48-year-old left Nuremberg in the hands of former reserve team coach Michael Wiesinger, who has thus far managed to carry forward the successful work of his predecessor, even eclipsing his achievements in 2013. While Hecking has picked up 12 points with Wolfsburg since the turn of the year, Wiesinger has gained 14 to keep the Franconian club on course for yet another season in the Bundesliga.
“We want to leave them behind [in the table], at least with a draw, but ideally with a win,” said Wiesinger, whose side currently sit three points above their opponents thanks to a seven-game unbeaten streak which swells their confidence for the trip north. “We want more points. Our opponents know it’s tough to play against us,” added the 40-year-old.
The element of surprise is not one Wiesinger will be able to spring on Sunday, not least since Hecking knows everything there is to know about his entire playing squad. “That’s not a good thing,” said Wiesinger. “They can’t really surprise us either, though.” He is therefore set to name the same team which defeated FC Schalke 04 3-0 a fortnight ago, although on-loan Wolfsburg striker Sebastian Polter could figure. “Of course he’s motivated,” said the coach. “We’ve got plenty of options in attack with Tomas Pekhart, Mu Kanazaki and Alexander Esswein.”
Hecking is set to hand Patrick Helmes his first start in over 11 months following his return to fitness. “I didn’t have the feeling in recent weeks that Patrick could help, but that has changed now,” said Hecking. “He’s taken a big leap forwards and I’m confident he can start the game and help the team.” A partnership with Ivica Olic is therefore likely.
“We’ve had three chances to turn things around at home, but sadly we’ve not managed it,” continued Hecking, whose charges have won only twice at home all season, picking up just 11 points from 13 matches. “We’ll give it another go against Nuremberg. We want to impose ourselves from the outset, but we need to be more clinical with our chances.” An area in which Helmes, who was close to a call-up to the Germany squad prior to UEFA EURO 2012, could well come in handy.
Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Fagner, Naldo, Madlung, Rodriguez - Vieirinha, Polak, Träsch, Diego - Helmes, Olic
Nuremberg: Schäfer - Chandler, Nilsson, Klose, Pinola - Simons - Kiyotake, Feulner, Balitsch, Esswein - Pekhart