German champion Wolfsburg goes into its Champions League match against Besiktas with concerns over its attack, with Edin Dzeko nursing a thigh injury and Grafite out of form.
Dzeko and Grafite combined for a Bundesliga record 54 goals last season to help Wolfsburg win its first championship.
Article continues below ...
Grafite scored a hat-trick in Wolfsburg’s opening 3-1 win over CSKA Moscow in Group B, but the Brazilian striker has since been in a slump and has been relegated to the bench, partly because of his poor performances, partly for criticizing coach Armin Veh.
“I hope I can play from the start and that I can help the team,” Grafite said ahead of Wednesday’s game. “I’ve been hitting the target well in the Champions League.”
Dzeko had a slow start to the new season but is beginning to approach his form from last term although he has a bruised thigh that could rule him out of the Besiktas game.
“It hurts a lot, I just hope that it will get better before Wednesday’s match,” the Bosnian said.
If Dzeko fails to recover in time, Wolfsburg’s third striker, Obafemi Martins, could make a start. But he has also struggled to find his best form is suffering from a shin bone injury that will probably require surgery during the winter break.
“The coach has told me that he needs me badly,” Martins said.
With all three strikers having problems, it’s unlikely Veh will start the three of them as he did against CSKA.
Wolfsburg also has been having problems in defense and has conceded 16 goals in nine games, one of the worst defensive records in the Bundesliga.
“In the Champions League, such mistakes are punished. We can’t allow such carelessness against Besiktas.
Wolfsburg has three points after losing 2-1 at Manchester United in the previous round.
Besiktas has lost both of its first two games, 1-0 to Manchester United and 2-1 to CSKA, and needs to win in Wolfsburg to remain in contention for the next round.
Besiktas striker and national team player Nihat Kahveci said the Turkish side is aiming to “earn a point or points this time.”
“Every away game is difficult. Our opponent is strong and plays well at home” Kahveci told a news conference before the team’s departure for Germany.
Besiktas will be missing Filip Holosko, Batuhan Karadeniz, Onur Bayramoglu and Ridvan Simsek due to injuries.