bundesliga.com looks ahead to the Matchday 4 encounter in Lower Saxony...
With just three points seperating first-placed Everton FC and fourth-placed Krasnodar in Group H, Wolves’ coach Dieter Hecking (pictured) knows that victory over the Russians, whom they beat 4-2 a fortnight ago, could go a long way to securing their place in the knockout stages of the competition. Krasnodar, meanwhile, will have to avoid defeat to keep their hopes of reaching the last 32 alive.
Left-back Ricardo Rodriguez (pictured) has been undergoing treatment on a thigh injury with FC Bayern München team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller Wohlfahrt and is almost certain to miss Thursday’s clash. Daniel Caligiuri meanwhile, who was forced off after 16 minutes of Saturday’s 4-0 victory over VfB Stuttgart, has been ruled out for four weeks with a thigh injury.
Midfielder Vladimir Bystrov (pictured) is nursing a hamstring injury and will miss the trip to Lower Saxony. The 30-year-old is joined on the sidelines by Joaozinho, who is suspended. Head coach Oleg Kononov could hand a starting role to Pavel Mamayev, who replaced the Brazilian in the defeat to the Wolves a fortnight ago.
bundesliga.com users voted Kevin De Bruyne the Matchday 10 Player of the Week after the Belgium international scored one and assisted another in the 4-0 win at Stuttgart, which lifted the Wolves into second place in the Bundesliga table. Having bagged a brace in Russia last time out, De Bruyne will fancy his chances against the Premjer-Liga outfit this time around.
He failed to find the net against Wolfsburg two weeks ago, but striker Ari’s trickery caused the Wolves’ rearguard more than a few problems at the Kuban Stadium. The Fortaleza-born goalgetter, who joined Krasnodar from FC Spartak Moskva in 2013, has failed to score since Matchday 9 of the Premjer-Liga, but Wolfsburg will do well to keep him quiet on Thursday evening.
Kevin De Bruyne: “We know how they play now, but it’s a new game and one which they can’t afford to lose.”
Diego Benaglio: “[Ari] showed in the first leg that he’s a tricky customer and has a lot of quality. We can expect more of the same from him on Thursday.”
Wolfsburg have hit form since the teams’ last meeting, beating 1. FSV Mainz (3-0), and Stuttgart in the league, whilst thumping 1. FC Heidenheim 4-1 in the DFB Cup. By contrast, Krasnodar have won only one of their three games since losing to the Wolves. A 2-0 win over Terek Grozny was followed by successive defeats to Krylya Sovetov and Mordovia Saransk.
Wolfsburg’s 4-2 win over Krasnodar was not only the first-ever meeting between the two sides, it was also the Lower Saxony club’s biggest ever away victory in the UEFA Europa League. Prior to that, the Wolves’ previous encounter against Russian opposition had resulted in a 3-2 aggregate win over FC Rubin Kazan in the 2009/10 Europa League.
Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Jung, Naldo, Knoche, Träsch - Gustavo, Guilavogui - Perisic, De Bruyne, Hunt - Olic
Krasnodar: Dikan - Jedrejczyk, Sigurdsson, Granquist, Kaleshin - Gazinskiy - Laborde, Akhmedov, Pereyra, Mamaev - Ari