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Wolfsburg must overcome bogey side Schalke to get back on track

The last thing Wolfsburg need after their damaging defeat in the Europa League quarter-final first leg to Napoli is to play a domestic Bundesliga fixture they have struggled with.

Schalke are something of a nemesis for Die Wolfe, as the Gelsenkirchen club have triumphed in five of the last six head-to-heads. Yet Roberto Di Matteo’s men are 4/1 outsiders with Coral for victory at the Volkswagen Arena.

April is proving to be a punishing month for Wolfsburg, with this encounter being match five of eight across all competitions. It is testing Dieter Hecking’s squad, but they are odds-on 4/6 favourites to come out on top in this latest clash. A rare draw, meanwhile, comes in at 11/4.

There are Premier League connections aplenty underpinning Schalke’s dance with the wolves. Serbia and former Manchester City defender Matija Nastasic has helped Di Matteo’s side keep successive clean sheets, and another here is a 6/1 shot.

It’s not keeping things tight at the back that is Schalke’s problem, but scoring. They haven’t found the net in any of their last three, so it may be worth promoting ex-Portsmouth and Spurs star Kevin-Prince Boareng back into the starting XI, especially as he got the winner in last term’s reverse fixture.

Ghana international attacking midfielder Boateng is a 5/1 anytme scorer chance here.

Others are more proven at wounding Wolfsburg, though, with long-term Arsenal target Julian Draxler (4/1 in the same market), Peru winger Jefferson Fafan (11/4) and Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (7/4) all among those who have netted in this fixture before.

Huntelaar’s compatriot Bas Dost may have seen his time in the spotlight end, after enduring a 10-game goal drought for club and country. This makes him very short indeed at an odds-on 8/11 anytime price, and for once Gunners old boy Nicklas Bendtner looks a sensible alternative.

Denmark frontman Bendtner scored Die Wolfe’s consolation last time out, and also netted last when Wolfsburg went down 3-2 in Gelsenkirchen back in November. He’s a 15/8 anytime chance or 13/2 to grab the final goal again.

Winter winter signing Andre Schurrle needs to do more, following a solitary strike in 15 club outings since leaving Chelsea. He is 7/4 to find the target again anytime.

Kevin De Bruyne, another taken in by the wolves from Stamford Bridge, has also seen his fine form dip. It’s 9/2 the Belgium international addresses this by netting the opener.

Although there is a recent history of goals galore in his game, Wolfsburg will want to tighten things up after shipping four last time out. Odds of 13/8 for the match total to exceed 3.5 are tempting, but should be resisted with Schalke struggling to score and Die Wolfe looking to get the Napoli shock out of their system.

A 1-0 Wolfsburg win is an 8/1 shot and, as this should be a keenly fought and close contest, punters may see the trend of open encounters bucked here.