Gent were supposed to be the whipping boys in the group stage but incredibly they won their final three matches to finish second in their group, ahead of Lyon and Valencia. And they’ve been rewarded with a tie against one of the weakest group winners in the shape of out of form Wolfsburg.
The German side are five points off the Champions League places in the Bundesliga after just one win in eight games and in all competitions their away record is particularly poor. They’ve gone W2-D3-L8 on the road in the last six months including defeats at PSV and Man Utd in the group stage. Improving this record won’t be easy either as they look set to be missing four regular starters in the shape of keeper Benaglio, left back Rodriguez, holding midfielder Guilavogui and striker Dost.
In contrast, Gent are in excellent form and top the Belgian league following their 14th win in 18 matches in all competitions, including seven in a row at home. Furthermore, they’ve lost only one home match all season and have scored in every match here.
Of course there is a significant difference in the levels of the German and Belgian leagues and Belgian teams have lost half their 26 home games against German sides in the Champions and Europa leagues since 1990. 59% of Champions League Last 16 first legs have had fewer than three goals and Gent can certainly frustrate Wolfsburg. They’ve conceded just two goals in their last six home matches while Wolfsburg have failed to score in four of their last seven on the road and the absence of top scorer Dost is particularly significant. Wolfsburg have lost the last six away matches in the league when the Dutchman has been out of the line-up as they’ve scored just three goals.
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