After reaching the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in club’s history, Wolfsburg will attempt to go one step further with a strong performance against Real Madrid in the first leg. But, this is not exactly the right time to be facing los Blancos, who are brimming with confidence after the El Clasico triumph.
Wolfsburg have come a long way over the last decade, lifting one Bundesliga trophy and establishing themselves as one of the league’s top sides, but the current season has not exactly been going according to plan. Following the 3-0 hammering at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen, the Wolves are effectively out of the race for top 4 positions, while even Europa League qualification seems out of reach. Nevertheless, the impressive Champions League campaign should not only prove enough to cushion the blow, but also further improve club’s healthy finances. After doing really well to progress from an evenly matched group, Wolfsburg were quite fortunate to be pitted against minnows KAA Gent in the last 16 stage and they allowed no surprises, winning the tie 4-2 on aggregate. But, they will now have a much bigger fish to fry and taking into account their recent performances and a three-match winless run, we are not prepared to back Dieter Hecking’s charges to get something from this game. Team’s attacking problems are another cause for concern, with Wolfsburg having scored just one goals in last three outings.
Sebastian Jung and Daniel Caliguiri are both out injured, whereas Nicklas Bendtner has been dropped from the squad and is unlikely to play for Wolfsburg again.
Portuguese winger Vieirinha could be moved back to the right-back position, in which case winter recruit Bruno Henrique will start on the right.
This has been yet another tumultuous season for world’s most decorated club, but the team have been showing signs of recovery under Zinedine Zidane. It appears to be too late for Real Madrid to revive their title bid in Spanish La Liga, but there are no doubts the impressive victory over arch rivals Barcelona at Camp Nou will give the team much needed boost ahead of the final stretch of the season. And having also crashed out of the Copa del Rey, los Blancos can now fully focus on their Champions League campaign and attempt to lift their 11th title in the competition. Real Madrid have been quite relentless in this year’s competition, winning seven of eight games and only sharing spoils with Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes. What is more, los Blancos only conceded in one of those games, which shows they have been pretty good at the back as well. Taking also into account that they are now in much better shape than their next opposition, everything suggests that the excellent run is going to continue at Volkswagen Arena.
Rapahel Varane was the only Real Madrid player who missed the first training session after the El Clasico win, and he is unlikely to take part.
This means that coach Zinedine Zidane is almost certain to field an unchanged line-up to that which recorded the 2-1 win at Camp Nou.
Key Factors to Consider
- This will be the first ever meeting between Wolfsburg and Real
- The Wolves won all four home games in the current campaign
- Wolfsburg scored just once in last three fixtures
- Real Madrid won seven of eight CL games this season
- Los Blancos kept seven clean sheets during said period
Wolfsburg may have done well to reach the quarter-finals, but, given the poor form they are in, we don’t see how they are going to match high flying Real Madrid. Los Blancos made it six wins in a row with a triumph at Camp Nou and everything suggests the trend is going to continue on Wednesday.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 2/3
Bookmaker: William Hill