VfL Wolfsburg veteran Marcel Schäfer told bundesliga.com the Wolves will take a big step towards the UEFA Champions League knockout stages if they can carry their domestic form onto the European stage this week.
Wolfsburg face CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, six years to the day since they were beaten 2-1 by the same opponents at the same stage of the competition. Another CSKA win would keep the Russian side in contention to progress to the last 16, but Schäfer believes Dieter Hecking's men can get a positive result if they recreate the devastating play that dismantled SV Werder Bremen 6-0 in Saturday’s Bundesliga game.
“We've already been there. At that time, just like this one, things were really tight,” said Schäfer, whose side lie third in Group B on six points, two ahead of CSKA - beaten 1-0 by a Julian Draxler goal in the Wolves' group-stage opener - and just one behind section leaders Manchester United.
"It'll be a difficult game, but we want to reach the knockout stages. If we can carry the form we showed against Bremen to Moscow with us and play in the same way, then we’ll take the three points."
Schäfer played all 90 minutes of Wolfsburg's loss in Moscow in November 2009, and was also on the pitch for the whole game against Bremen. While the first appearance was normal for the left-back given his integral role in Wolfsburg’s historic title win of the 2008/09 campaign, the latter is more surprising.
Ricardo Rodriguez’s emergence as an international-class defender has limited Schäfer's opportunities in recent seasons. The Germany international's Matchday 13 outing was only his third this term, though he did still manage to provide the cross that allowed Vierinha to make it 3-0 and tally his 38th assist, setting a new Wolfsburg record.
It helped the Wolves extend their remarkable unbeaten home streak to 29 matches, and ensured they remain in the top three for a further week, a step closer to qualifying for next season's Champions League group stages.
After last season's runners-up finish earned them a return to European club football's top table for the first time since 2009, Schäfer admitted the squad now have a taste for the competition which they do not want to lose.
"We look forward to every Champions League evening. We've worked long and hard for it," said the former TSV 1860 Munich man, who played in all six group stage games in 2009.
"We haven't managed to be in the Champions League very often. I hope for the team that we manage to do it consistently in the next few years. And when I'm no longer playing, perhaps I'll sit up there with the media and enjoy these evenings."