WE asked European football expert Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) to give us the best bet from Wednesday night’s clash between Gent and Wolfsburg.
Gent v Wolfsburg | Wednesday 19.45 | BT Sport 2
Gent know what it’s like to come back from the brink. The Belgian outfit were close to bankruptcy less than 20 years ago and survived to tell the tale whilst after three games of their debut Champions League group-stage they’d taken a solitary point.
Three consecutive victories from their final Group H fixtures helped to clinch qualification to the Last 16 and the Buffalos become the first Belgian side to reach the knockout stages of the competition.
Hein Vanhaezebrouck’s men were one of only six sides to score in each pool match and Gent look a touch on the large side this midweek to keep their dreams of a quarter-final place alive by avoiding defeat against Wolfsburg.
The hosts have been in outstanding form since late October, pocketing 16 wins from 21 matches, topping their domestic table thanks to 14 triumphs from 19 and recording a fearsome W16-D4-L1 at their Ghelamco Arena home in 2015/16 including seven wins on the spin.
Swiss midfielder Danijel Milicevic was instrumental in helping the Belgians through the group phase but captain Sven Kums has earned rave reviews back home whilst target man forward Laurent Depoitre is understood to be on Premier League clubs’ radars.
Intriguingly, the hosts have switched to a back-three in Champions League action this season, proving Vanhaezebrouck’s ability to mix things up so it’ll be interesting to see if the Buffalos boss revisits that approach.
Whatever the case may be, with Boylesports offering even-money on Gent in the Draw No Bet market this midweek, I just have to get involved.
Why? Well along with the fabulous fairytale story, the superb form and belief in the home camp, visitors Wolfsburg arrive without a number of key players through injury or suspension.
Dieter Hecking’s underperforming Bundesliga boys arrive without outstanding goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, left-back Ricardo Rodriguez, experienced centre-half Naldo, holding midfielder Joshua Guilavogui or star striker Bas Dost for first leg.
The Wolves have lost each of their last six away league games without Dost leading the line – scoring just three goals – and the visitors have failed to net in four of their previous seven road trips.
The German side are five points off the Champions League qualification places in the Bundesliga having picked up just one win in eight games and their away record all season is a wretched W2-D3-L8 – in eight of those matches they’ve conceded at least two goals.
There’s an obvious quality disparity between the top tiers in Belgium and Germany but Gent have proven in encounters with Lyon, Valencia and Zenit St Petersburg they can more than hold their own and the value is most certainly with the Buffalos here.
Gent v Wolfsburg – Gent draw no bet (1/1 Boylesports)
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