History repeats itself on Tuesday when Wolfsburg return to the Champions League, against CSKA Moscow, following a six-year absence with new signings Julian Draxler and Dante still struggling to settle.
Wolfsburg kick off only their second Champions League campaign against exactly the same opponents as in 2009 when they beat CSKA 3-1 at the Volkswagen Arena and Brazil striker Grafite claimed a hat-trick.
Six years on, Swiss goalkeeper Diego Benaglio is set to be the only survivor to start on Tuesday from the Wolfsburg side which finished third in their group behind Manchester United and CSKA.
Once again Wolfsburg face CSKA and United in this season’s group stages, with Dutch side PSV Eindhoven joining them in group B, and the Germans face Louis Van Gaal’s United away at the end of the month.
Having sold playmaker Kevin De Bruyne to Manchester City for a reported record fee of A?54 million ($83.6 million, 74 million euros) last month, Wolfsburg signed Germany international Draxler from Schalke to fill the Belgian’s attacking midfield role.
Wolfsburg have also recruited veteran Brazil centre-back Dante from Bayern Munich, after a frustrating start to the season on the Bavarians’ bench, to bolster their defence.
Dante and Draxler were absymal in the nil-nil draw against Ingolstadt
But neither new signing impressed in Saturday’s goalless draw at newly-promoted Ingolstadt in a below-par team performance.
“There’s no point getting carried away, they have only played twice here. They fact that they both started against Ingolstadt shows we have a lot of trust in them,” said Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking.
“I think given that Dante hasn’t played much football recently, he played well, but needs more time.”
CSKA will provide a stern test for Hecking’s Wolfsburg, who are third in the Bundesliga behind leaders Borussia Dortmund and Bayern.
CSKA started the league season with a club record seven consecutive victories
The Russian Premier League leaders started their domestic campaign with a club record seven consecutive victories prior to Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home to Zenit St Petersburg.
Their sole defeat was the 2-1 loss to Sporting Lisbon in the first leg of their play-off tie before they qualified for the Champions League group stages for the third time in succession with a 3-1 win in the return.
In each of the past two seasons, they have failed to get out of their group and finished bottom both in 2013 and last term.
CSKA have lost all four of their previous visits to Germany, the last of which was a 3-0 defeat at Bayern Munich in December 2014.
Wolfsburg’s attack can take some heart from the fact CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev has conceded a goal in each of his last 31 Champions League appearances, qualifying included.
His last clean sheet in the competition came when CSKA earned a goalless draw at Arsenal back in November 2006.