Athens (AP) – Hardly any other Bundesliga club has worn out as many players, coaches and managers as VfL Wolfsburg in the past five years. Jörg Schmadtke has been working to change this since 2018.
The fact that the “Wolves” reached the Europa League for the second time in a row on Thursday evening (8.45 pm / Sport1) in their decisive qualifying match in AEK Athens only proves that the sports director has achieved a lot in a short time. “We came here to take our final step in the group stage,” said coach Oliver Glasner after arriving in Athens. “We die for this game.”
What remains of hiring and firing the past are still hefty staff costs and many former Wolfsburgers who can now give the club a few tips on its travels through Europe. With ex-manager Olaf Rebbe and ex-player Vieirinha, two of them moved to Greece. Both warn the “wolves” of the third and final qualifying opponent Athens.
“It will be a difficult game for VfL, AEK is strong at home”, de Vieirinha told the internet portal “Sportbuzzer”. The 34-year-old Portuguese moved back to PAOK Saloniki from Wolfsburg in 2017, where he was unable to reach a contract extension this summer with the new sports director Rebbe.
As for VfL’s outlook for Thursday night, they both agree: Wolfsburg is the light favorite, but the 2018 Greek champions are a much better and internationally more experienced team than the two previous qualifying opponents FK Kukesi (4-0) and Desna. Chernihiv (2-0).
“The attacking duo is very strong,” Rebbe said to the “kicker”. “Croatian Marko Livaja, who moved to Italy at a very young age and gained four or five years of experience there, is arguably the strongest AEK player in terms of game. In addition, Portuguese Nelson Oliveira is a solid striker who has already played in England. “
The defense of Athens is Ukrainian Dimitro Tschigrinski, who once brought Pep Guardiola to FC Barcelona and quickly put them back together. The new coach Massimo Carrera was part of the coaching staff of Juventus Turin and the Italian national team for many years. In his first position as boss, he immediately won the Russian championship with Spartak Moscow.
Together with PAOK, Olympiakos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athene, AEK is one of the four best clubs in Greece. In 2013 the yellow-blacks were still broke and they started again in the third division. But the return to the first division followed in 2015 and the twelfth Greek championship in 2018. “This is a team that is very well organized defensively and has several creative players on the offensive,” said Glasner. VfL has been warned.