Champions League quarter-final second leg preview: Real Madrid v Wolfsburg
The biggest shock of this year’s Champions League so far came in Germany last week, where Wolfsburg defied the form book to race into a 2-0 lead against Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid.
Ricardo Rodríguez and Maximilian Arnold were on target in the first leg, giving Madrid a mountain to climb as they seek to reach the semi-finals for the sixth year in a row.
Before the first leg, Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking spoke of the need for his side to avoid giving Madrid too much respect and his side certainly took his advice, but with so much attacking talent at their disposal many will still fancy Zidane’s men to come out on top.
Madrid have a two-goal deficit to overturn in the second leg, but they have achieved that on 22 previous occasions in the competition, most recently in the semi-final against Juventus last year.
This is the second time Wolfsburg have been in the Champions League and they are breaking new ground despite being in mid-table in the Bundesliga after a poor domestic campaign.
With five Champions League wins in a row, Wolfsburg go into the second leg in fine form and full of confidence, but can they repel Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema again?
Madrid’s poor record against German opposition
Real Madrid have a surprisingly poor record against German opposition considering the club has been able to win the European Cup 10 times during the long history of the club.
The loss in the first leg of the quarter-final was Madrid’s 19th defeat in 29 visits to Bundesliga clubs, although they have still won four successive ties against German sides.
Last year, Madrid beat Schalke in the round-of-16, losing the second leg 4-3 but going through to the next round thanks to a 2-0 away win in the opening leg. Wolfsburg’s Julian Draxler was in the Schalke team for that exit.
Madrid’s record in two-legged ties against German clubs in continental competition is 12 wins and eight defeats, so the odds still appear to be in favour of Zidane’s charges.
Should the game go to penalties, Madrid have only prevailed in one of the three European shoot-outs they have played, beating Juventus but losing to Bayern Munich and Crvena Zvezda.
Wolfsburg have won in Ghent and Moscow on their European adventure this season, but prior to this tie the Bundesliga outfit had won one of four previous games against Spanish opponents.
Real Madrid fantasy players to watch
Despite a low score in the first leg of the tie, Ronaldo will still be a very popular pick for daily fantasy football players due to the 13 goals he has already scored in the tournament. Ronaldo scored an El Clasico winner in the build-up to the first leg and will be keen to keep his chances of securing more European glory alive.
Benzema has hit four goals in this season’s Champions League, while the third member of the attacking trio, Gareth Bale, has yet to open his account after four games in the competition.
Casemiro does a lot of Madrid’s dirty work in midfield, while the second leg could see James Rodríguez given the chance to show what he can do and justify his large transfer fee.
The similarly-maligned Isco has three Champions League assists this season and, as the pair have received a lot of criticism this season, it could be their time to shine.
Wolfsburg fantasy players to watch
A goal for Rodríguez in the first leg justified his reputation as one of Europe’s best left-backs and the Switzerland international, who is available at $3,800 on DraftKings will once again be a key player for his side. Draxler will also be out to impress, with the disappointment of that defeat with Schalke fresh in his memory.
Naldo was excellent in the first leg for Wolfsburg and the experienced Brazilian will have to be at his best again for the return fixture at the Santiago Bernabéu. For his seven Champions League appearances this season, Naldo earned a WhoScored rating of 7.48 – excellent for a defender.
Anyone who fancies Wolfsburg to keep Madrid out again could also take a gamble on Rodríguez’s international colleague Diego Benaglio.