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Claiming the prized scalps of FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus in the last two rounds has reinforced belief in the Fulham FC camp that the Cottagers can go all the way in the UEFA Europa League according to winger Simon Davies.
Fulham began the tournament against Lithuania's FK Vėtra in the third qualifying round in late July, simply glad to be involved in continental competition and unsure how they would fare after a seven-year absence. Having progressed through the group stage, though, and then eliminated two former trophy winners, Davies has sensed a shift in expectations among the squad as they prepare to welcome quarter-final opponents VfL Wolfsburg on Thursday.
"Qualifying was one thing, we weren't really sure of a lot of the other teams and how we'd do," said the 30-year-old. "Since we scraped through the group stage with a win in Basle you can sense the excitement in the squad building in every game because this is new for us and everyone is enjoying it.
To get past the two clubs we have to reach the quarters has given us the extra belief that we can achieve something in this competition and we're all really excited about it."
Since the 4-1 home defeat of Juventus two weeks ago, one of the greatest nights in the club's history, Fulham's domestic form has suffered. Roy Hodgson's team have lost their last three and Davies concedes the euphoria of the beating the two-time European champions perhaps took its toll. "It's just the way it's gone," added the Welsh international. "After such a big night against Juventus maybe we had a bit of a hangover for the Man City game [a 2-1 home loss] which came so quickly after. We've had tough games but we're more than looking forward to Thursday."
While describing Wolfsburg as a "quality team" who "score lots of goals", Davies is hoping Fulham can use their formidable home record in Europe – they are unbeaten in 14 matches – to their advantage ahead of the return in Germany on 8 April. "We know it's going to be tough; we'll treat them with all the respect they deserve," he said. "But being at home it's up to us to try and take the game to them and hopefully get a lead going into the away leg next week."
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