Champions League: Wolfsburg and Gladbach return to elite adventure | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 14.09.2015
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Champions League: Wolfsburg and Gladbach return to elite adventure

The time has finally arrived. Europe's elite club football competition will kick-start its group stage phase this week, with Wolfsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach representing Germany on Tuesday.

Six and 37. That's how many years Wolfsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach have been waiting to return to Europe's elite club competition. On matchday one of the new season, both sides will be facing opponents they know all too well, after starting the new season in opposite ways.

For Wolfsburg, these six years have felt like sixty. The successful 2008-09 Bundesliga campaign, which saw the Wolves clinch their first ever German title, also qualified them for a debut berth in the Champions League. Now in 2015, Wolfsburg's campaign will begin just as it did the first time, with a home game against CSKA Moscow.

"Compared to 2009, we are better placed as a team," said Diego Benaglio, one of two players able to play on Tuesday night who also played six years ago in a 3-1 home win. "With a similar result to that opening game, we can do very well. We need two or three more points than last time."

Wolfsburg's form heading into the opener has been solid. Two wins and two draws from the opening four Bundesliga matches leave last year's league runners-up in fourth. A vibrant end to the summer transfer window has left questions over the clubs immeditate future. But both Julian Draxler and Dante are available for the game having debuted in Saturday's0-0 draw with Ingolstadt.

"This is our reward after developing ourselves over a fantastic season last year," Dieter Hecking said at his pre-match press conference, alongside Benaglio. "CSKA are a top attacking team, with a lot of quality. We have to be at our absolute best to be able to beat them."

Mönchengladbach vs Bremen Bundesliga Tony Jantschke Roel Brouwers

Usually the superlatives run out in desrcibing good performances, not bad, as in Gladbach's case

Will Gladbach's season start here?

To say that Borussia Mönchengladbach's season has yet to start would be a massive understatement. Four losses to start the Bundesliga season - a record low for the Foals - means the return to the Champions League is being muted, rather than celebrated. After last season's heroics in finishing third, a summer which proved costly has provided immediate question marks over the months ahead.

Friday night's 0-3 loss at home to Hamburg was, in the words of club sporting director Max Eberl, "A kick in the teeth for us." Defeats to Borussia Dortmund, Mainz and Werder Bremen were still unexpected, but not as hard-hitting as the HSV thumping. One of the league's worst teams last year providing a convincing win in your own back yard is a sure sign that a Champions League return could have come too soon.

"It's clear that there is a lack of trust in the team," said head coach Lucien Favre after Saturday's match. "We are playing to complicated." Max Eberl added, "It's clear there is a lot of fear out there. We have to be men and deal with this situation."

Like Wolfsburg, the Foals will face familiar opposition in Europa League champions Sevilla, who they faced in last year's other European competition just seven months ago. Granit Xhaka, who saw red in the second leg of that tie, is suspended for this group stage opener. With Martin Stranzl and Patrick Herrmann sidelined through injury, it looks as though Mönchengladbach will have to wait a while longer for its season to kick-off.

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