While Genk are treading new ground, Stuttgart have been knocked out at this stage of the competition no less than four times in the past eight seasons, making them all the more determined to progress.
Steadying the ship
So far this season Bruno Labbadia's men have flattered to deceive in the Europa League, failing to win on home soil and barely scraping through Group E by virtue of their superior head-to-head record against FC Kobenhavn. And in spite of their winless start to 2013, Stuttgart are determined to prove their doubters wrong. "Four losses in the second half of the season isn't good," admitted Labbadia. "There will always be [bad] phases, but we've got to figure out how to get out of it. It's crucial we get back on track."
Given their hosts' flagging form, Genk will undoubtedly fancy their chances of maintaining their unbeaten record in this season's competition. The Belgians have collected two wins from as many domestic matches in February and are not to be underestimated.
"They boast talented individuals, but it's noticeable that they function very efficiently as a team," noted Labbadia before issuing a rallying call to his troops. "We're lacking in self-confidence. We're in a phase in which minor details are setting us back and we're missing the players to breach the gap. It's going to be a battle of wills."