Wednesday 21 February 2018

Wolfsburg v Fulham: match preview

Jason Burt

The Europa League quarter-final second leg between Wolfsburg and Fulham takes place at 8.05pm tonight at the Volkswagen Arena.

Tactical duel:

Wolfsburg are growing in confidence after a poor start to a season they began as Bundesliga champions. However they deserve huge credit for ending the first leg of this tie with four strikers as they desperately, and successfully, sought an away goal. It showed bravery and it worked. Fulham will have to beware and also need to bypass holding midfielder Josue if they are to score again.

What they're saying:

Lorenz Gunther Kostner, Wolfsburg coach: "Alexander Madlung's goal gives us a good chance now but what we need to do is to be determined. We have to have the will, be determined to give an absolutely excellent performance. We need everyone in this club, including the fans, to give a performance for 90 minutes, maybe longer and that's the way we'll get through to the semi-finals."

Roy Hodgson, Fulham coach: "These sort of games fire you up even more and they remind you why you still want to be involved at the very top level. We've had some great games in the Europa League, we'll have another one tomorrow night and another one (against Liverpool in the Premier League) at Anfield on Sunday."

Key clash:

The Germans biggest threat is in attack where Grafite and, in particular, Edin Dzeko score freely. This season they have not been quite so effect, though Dzeko is still scoring, but Brede Hangeland will have to marshall his defensive team-mates more confidently than in the first-leg, when he struggled, to deny them. The Bosnian striker Dzeko also has the added incentive of trying to impress to earn a summer move, possibly to the Premier League.

Touchline duel:

Lorenz-Gunther Kostner took over as caretaker coach in January and will remain in charge to the end of the season. The 58-year-old German is little-known — although Wolfsburg is the 12 club he has coached in 28 years after a playing career that peaked at Borussia Moenchengladbach — but has steadied the ship, notwithstanding a horrific 5-1 defeat to Hertha Berlin, and restored confidence. The already high stock of Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, in Europe and England, has grown with this campaign. Like his opponent, Hodgson can also be tactically bold.

Probable teams:

Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Duff, Murphy, Etuhu, Davies; Gera; Zamora.

Wolfsburg (4-1-2-1-2): Benaglio; Pekarik, Madlung, Barzagli, Schafer; Josue; Riether, Gentner; Misimovic; Dzeko, Grafite.

Referee: Victor Kassai (Hungary).

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