Zulte Waregem v Wigan Athletic : Match Preview
Latics will play their first European competitive fixture this Thursday when they travel to Belgium to take on SV Zulte Waregem. Our Belgian hosts play their home games at the Regenboogstadium (The Rainbow Stadium in Dutch) but the venue does not meet UEFA's requirements so the game will be played in Brugges at the Jan Breydel Stadium.
Despite Zulte Waregem having the more European experience they have never won a European home game although their play off draw with Apoel FC ended a run of three straight losses. Add to that that no Belgian side has beaten English opposition in the last eight fixtures between English and Belgian sides, the omens would seem to favour the away side.
Both sides come into this fixture looking to bounce back from domestic defeats. Latics suffered a 2-0 defeat at The King Power Stadium to Leicester while Zulte Waregem were beaten heavily 5-2 at Racing Genk.
Grant Holt remains on the sidelines for Latics as he continues his recovery from the knee injury he picked up against Middlesbrough just over three weeks ago. Every other European squad player is fit and available but it remains to be seen whether Owen Coyle will shuffle his pack with one eye on a massive Sky Bet Championship game this Sunday.
Did you know
Zulte Waregem took on Newcastle United FC in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup round of 32, losing 3-1 at home and 1-0 at St James' Park.
No Belgian side has recorded a victory in the last eight European games between English and Belgian clubs (D3 L5) since R. Standard de Liege beat Everton FC 2-1 at home in the first round of the 2008/09 UEFA Cup.
Zulte Coach Francky Dury returned to Zulte Waregem at the end of 2011, and came close to leading them to a first title last season. A policeman while playing as a midfielder with amateur side Hulste Sport, he coached Zulte VV and became the new side's first coach when they merged with KSV Waregem to become Zulte Waregem in 2001. He finally handed in his police badge in 2007, having steered the club to the top division and won the 2005/06 Belgian Cup.
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