Few would have predicted Real Madrid’s result last week against Wolfsburg. On the back of their impressive victory against rivals Barcelona, they stumbled to a 2-0 defeat at the Volksparkstadion. The feeling in the Spanish capital, however, is that the belief shown at Camp Nou can be repeated on Tuesday to produce another comeback.
“In football everything happens – we were 13 points behind Barcelona,” Zinedine Zidane said, looking relaxed and confident, in his Press conference on Monday. He went on to state that his side are always under pressure to win and that focus will be vital. Midfield maestro Luka Modric has reaffirmed that notion, citing patience as another key component.
An early goal would help greatly in repelling any nerves, and the stats look promising for the home side. The BBC attack of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo are normally quick starters – Los Blancos having scored 28 goals in the first 20 minutes of games this season. Were they to do it again, it would ease the pressure on both the team and the fans, preventing the inevitable nervous rumblings that could occur as the game progresses.
Whilst Los Blancos have struggled on their travels this season, they are a much more formidable unit at Santiago Bernabeu. They’ve won all but one of their nine home games since Zidane has been in charge, scoring 37 times in the process. They will hope to maintain that four-goal average on Tuesday, with at least two goals needed to take the game to extra time.
Wolfsburg, meanwhile, have been relatively inconsistent on the road. They’ve won only two of their last nine games away from home, including a 3-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen earlier this month. In the Champions League, though, they have won back-to-back away games and will pose a serious threat on the counter, especially if Madrid leave themselves exposed.
Whilst the BBC will be spearheading Madrid’s attack, perhaps the most important player will be Casemiro. His role will be to protect the defence, ensuring that the attacking players can do so with freedom. He will be especially important, with Madrid chasing the game, to fill the gaps and dispel the Germans’ counter attacks.
Zidane is likely to turn to the starting XI that defeated La Blaugrana. He rested a number of players for the League match against Eibar at the weekend, in order to maximise their energy levels. Bale, Benezema, Modric, Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos and Keylor Navas are likely to return to the starting line-up. Meanwhile the weekend performances of recent substitutes James Rodriguez and Isco will have pleased the Coach. They offer him strong options to turn to if things don’t go as planned.
Real Madrid can make history if they overcome their deficit to defeat Wolfsburg, victory ensuring they reach their sixth consecutive European semi-final. They may start with a disadvantage, but the omens are looking good for a comeback in Madrid.