Wolfsburg’s Brazilian striker Grafite is under fire after his red card in the 0-0 draw with Besiktas in the Champions League.
Last season’s top scorer in the Bundesliga with 28 goals hasn’t found the target in more than five weeks and has looked increasingly frustrated.
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“It shouldn’t happen to him, he hurt us,” Wolfsburg coach Armin Veh said after Wednesday’s match.
Veh said he would have another one-on-one talk with Grafite, who scored a hat trick in the opening Champions League 3-1 victory over CSKA Moscow.
Grafite was sent off in the 74th minute after shoving his hand into the face of Ibrahim Kas as the two jostled in front of Besiktas’ goal before a corner in what looked like a move out of frustration. He apologized to fans as he was leaving the field.
“He is actually a nice guy, he doesn’t mean it maliciously,” Veh said. “He’s very emotional.”
Grafite is also being criticized by teammates, although they have promised to help him overcome the scoring slump.
“It was a stupid foul and it was bad for the team,” said forward Edin Dzeko.
Grafite and Dzeko combined for a Bundesliga record 54 goals last season to lead Wolfsburg to its first championship. While Dzeko has regained the championship form, Grafite is a long way from it.
Dzeko said he was angry with Grafite, “not only because of this game but also because we won’t have him for at least another game.”
Grafite was benched in the Bundesliga, partly because of pale performances and partly because he had criticized his teammates and coach Veh. Grafite complained about not receiving enough good passes and about being substituted frequently.
His teammates appear to have forgiven him.
“A lot was expected from Grafite after last season,” said midfielder Sascha Riether. “We have to support him.”
“He is going through a difficult stage but we are behind him,” said Ashkan Dejagah, another midfielder.