Match Preview: Wigan Athletic vs Zulte Waregem

Dennis Grombkowski

Match day five and a game where a win could seal our progress to the knockout rounds. Results elsewhere have to be taken into account, but the lads and Owen Coyle will be looking for another home win to put the record straight after a defeat at the weekend to Brighton.

This is very contrasting to the game when the sides first met in the opening game of the Europa League. Wigan taking our first tentative steps onto the European stage and not really sure what to expect. What we got, in a rain soaked Belgium, was a team that was well drilled and had some talented players; we were lucky to get a 0-0 draw.

Since then our Europa League form has been excellent and a 1-0 defeat away at Rubin Kazan was a harsh result in the last round of fixtures. Away from the domestic league we seem a bit more relaxed a free flowing, which has meant we have opened up teams a lot more fluently and regularly.

Since our game in September Zulte have climbed the table and now sit second in the Belgium top divison just behind Standard Liege. Unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions they will be looking to continue that run of form and try and sneak into the knockout rounds of the Europa League.

With Kazan having already qualified with ten points, it is now a straight battle between the three of us (Maribor can also make the knockouts) to take up the second spot. We hold the lead on five points, Zulte have four and Maribor are on three.

Zulte know if they beat us, they then take the front row seat to qualify if they can get something of the Ruban in the final game. Where as we can qualify if Maribor do not win against Ruban tonight and we win. It all starts to get very complicated. The thing we need to know is we have to win.

That won't be easy, as I said before the Belgium team are in a bit of a purple patch and Owen Coyle has mentioned names that his side are on the look out to stop. Thorgan Hazard is one such name. He was by far the best player on the pitch against us in the reverse fixture and has enjoyed a wonderful season in Belgium playing 16 times and scoring nine goals.

A could return form a midfielder at the age of 20.

Wigan will have to up their game, Marc Albrighton has returned to Aston Villa ahead of schedule while other players who started against Brighton are likely to be rested to keep the team fresh for the weekend aswell as the midweek game.

Could we see the return of Ivan Ramis? The Spanish defender has played for the development squad and in a few closed door friendlies. The management at the club want to make sure he is a 100% before they start him but tonight could be a chance to have him on the bench and give him 20 minutes late on.

Its the result that matter tonight, not only for European qualification, but for the lads to get some pride back after losing our unbeaten home record at the weekend.

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