Real Madrid – Wolfsburg. Mark O’Haire’s prediction
Our pundit Mark O’Haire has given his view on the upcoming Champions League match between Real Madrid and Wolfsburg on Tuesday, April 12.
Real Madrid’s last eight attempts at overturning first leg deficits in the Champions League have ended in failure but I reckon Los Blancos can go very close to at least taking extra-time here.
Zinedine Zidane’s squad were well below-bar in last Wednesday’s clash, managing just three shots-on-target in Wolfsburg – their lowest tally in a Champions League game since October 2012. But were Madrid still punch drunk from their Clasico victory? I’d say so.
The resounding 2-0 reverse has focussed minds in the Madrid camp and Saturday’s routine 4-0 thumping of Eibar was achieved without a host of Real’s star-studded squad. The cavalry should return here as the 10-time champions bid to enhance a W9-D0-L1 home record under Zidane.
Real have tended to be ruthless operators in front of their home supporters. This season the hosts have W18-D1-L2 at the Bernabeu and that record reads W12-D0-L1 since December – Los Blancos plundering at least three goals in 11 of those 13 outings at a ridiculous rate of 4.77 goals-per-game.
In fact, nine of those 12 triumphs were by a three-goal margin and having W29-D3-L2 in their past 34 Champions League dates as hosts, Real are understandably strong favourites on the night.
More recently, Madrid have pocketed 16 wins from their last 18 continental clashes, 10 of which were achieved by scorelines that would at least take the tie to extra time, and eight by margins that would see Real through in 90 minutes.
It’s been well documented that the Spanish giants are yet to leak a Champions League goal at the Bernabeu this season but Roma and PSG could and should have picked up results in the capital, failing to net when well on top. And Madrid’s lack of an away goal does leave them exposed here.
Wolfsburg have a poor return in front of goal on their travels with the Lower Saxony side managaing just 11 goals in 14 away league games – six of which came in their trips to the bottom two – and their horrible road record also makes the Germans vulnerable visitors.
Wolfsburg have won just twice in nine road trips and humbled 3-0 at Bayer Leverkusen in the match preceding the first leg contest. Hecking’s charges boast the Bundesliga’s second worst away record and have W5-D4-L10 on their travels across all competitions in 2015/16.
Going back to 2013/14, the guests have W16-D12-L20 in away Bundesliga dates, shutting out just 7/48 (15%) of their hosts. Ten of those 20 defeats were by margins of at least two goals and considering the cumbersome centre-half partnership of Dante and Naldo is standing in Real’s way, I do have my reservations.
But head coach Dieter Hecking will be acutely aware an away goal leaves Real requiring four goals to progress and there’s no way I can invest my faith in Real Madrid keeping their sheets clean with this contest on a knife-edge.
Should Real succeed in taking this tie to the wire, you’d expect Cristiano Ronaldo to play a leading role. Ronaldo has struck 23 goals in his past 13 games at the Bernabeu, as well as 37 goals in 35 Champions League ties in the Spanish capital since his move to Madrid.
This season the Portuguese superstar has scored or assisted 74% of Real Madrid’s Champions League goals (17 out of 23) whilst also notching 30+ goals for the sixth successive season. So I’m more than happy to have a wee wager on the enhanced offer of Ronaldo to score and Real Madrid to win 2-0, 3-0 or 3-1 in 90 minutes at a bulbous 5.50.
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