Wolfsburg and Gladbach will be looking to turn their poor Europa League form around on Thursday, particularly after weekend wins in the Bundesliga. But domestic success doesn't guarantee international results.
While the Champions League is a safe haven of victory for its Bundesliga representatives, the Europa League has provided more difficult than expected for Borussia Mönchengladbach and Wolfsburg. Despite being two of the most in-form sides in the Bundesliga, the pair's European campaigns have thus far been misadventures.
Wolfsburg travel to Russia to face FK Krasnodar for Thursday's early kick-off (18:00 CET) and are in desperate need of a win after one disappointing draw and one thumping defeat. Having been outclassed by Everton on the opening matchday, Wolfsburg only just salvaged a draw with Lille. One point leaves Dieter Hecking's side bottom of Group H, but with the group still relatively open a win against Krasnodar could see them move into second place.
"If we want to progress, we need a win there," Wolfsburg striker Ivica Olic told reporters, promising to score against the Russian side.
But the Wolves are without star left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, who is suffering from a troubled patella tendon and thigh. The slightly less mobile Marcel Schäfer is expected to deputise. Forward Aaron Hunt is also out with an ankle injury, and striker Nicklas Bendtner will likely miss the match due to poor form and a variety of minor physical knocks.
In-form Gladbach welcome back Kramer
In the later time-slot on Wednesday, Gladbach face Apollon Limassol of Cyprus. In contrast to Wolfsburg, the Foals aren't suffering from a laundry list of injuries and can welcome back midfielder Christoph Kramer. The World Cup winner has recovered from his stomach bug and returned to training, although it is unclear whether he will apear against the Cypriots.
Like Wolfsburg, Gladbach are also yet to win in the Europa League this season. A 1-1 draw at home against Villarreal was followed by the same result away in Switzerland against FC Zürich. In both games Gladbach showed only glimpses of the form that has seen them surge into second in the Bundesliga table.
"This match will show the way," said Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer at the pre-game press conference. "We were aiming for a better start than only picking up two points in our first two matches."
The home game against the Cypriot minnow (19:05 UTC), a surprising second in Group A, provides the Foals with a fantastic opportunity to kick start their Europa League campaign. With striker Max Kruse in top form having scored three goals in his last two Bundesliga games, Gladbach are the heavy favorites.
jh,jc/al (SID, dpa)