McClaren targets Mainz revenge
Wolfsburg coach Steve McClaren knows he cannot afford a repeat of the 4-3 defeat to Mainz when the two sides meet again on Saturday.
That result in August was a defining moment in the first half of the season for Wolfsburg as they let a three-goal lead slip and were beaten late on, setting the trend for a difficult first six months of the year.
When the Wolves travel to Mainz on Saturday, McClaren says revenge is a necessity and that points and not performances are the current priority.
"That defeat really hurt us," he said. "It hampered the team for the entire first half of the season.
"You could see this in our nervousness at home to Leverkusen and Schalke. It took us a long time to deal with this game and I don’t like to recall it.
"Now I am looking forward to the rematch and hope that my next memory of Mainz is a good one."
That 4-3 result provided Mainz with a new-found resolve which helped them win the first seven matches of the season, equalling a league record in the process and leading the table for much of the season.
But that is now in the past and, after losing seven of their last 11 matches, Mainz’s current morale levels are unlikely to fuel a similar recovery on Saturday.
"That is too long ago," said their coach Thomas Tuchel.
"I don’t think that we could turn around a 3-0 deficit and beat Wolfsburg again. I think we can rule that out.
"We certainly will not be going into this match as favourites, even if the league table leads one to believe otherwise at present."
Tuchel insists that the league table lies and that the Wolves are a lot stronger than their current 14th place suggests.
"When you are considering signing a (Mark) van Bommel or a (Patrick) Helmes, then that just shows you are in a different category to us," he said.
"Given their strength of investment and the quality in their squad, it is clear that a two-digit league position does not really do justice to this team.
"But nobody gets anything for free here – you have to work hard to take anything away from the Bruchweg (Stadion)."
Both coaches should be able to name unchanged sides for Saturday’s clash in the Rhineland-Palatinate capital.