Madrid hopeful of avoiding shocking elimination to Wolfsburg
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 11, 2016 10:33 AM
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, top, attempts an overhead kick during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Eibar at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Saturday, April 9, 2016. Ronaldo scored once in Real Madrid's 4-0 victory. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Zinedine Zidane was still playing when Real Madrid last produced the kind of comeback it needs this week to avoid elimination to surprising Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
The last time Madrid overcame a first-leg loss in the European tournament was in the 2001-02 season, when it overcame a 2-1 loss at Bayern Munich by winning 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu to reach the semifinals and eventually win the title for the ninth time.
"As a coach I live these days before the knockout tie with more tension than as a player," Zidane said. "We know it will be an exciting game, great to play in. We know what we have to do and what we're playing for. We're going to prepare well, rest up and play at our best on Tuesday."
Madrid needs to erase a 2-0 away loss to Wolfsburg, which is playing in the knockout stage of the Champions League for the first time and was a heavy underdog coming into the quarterfinals against the 10-time European champion.
Another team needing to reverse a first-leg loss will be Atletico Madrid, which fell 2-1 to Spanish rival Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Bayern Munich travels to Portugal carrying a 1-0 advantage over Benfica, and Manchester City hosts Paris Saint-Germain following a 2-2 draw in France.
Wolfsburg has been struggling in Germany but arrives in Madrid boosted by a good away record in European competitions, losing only twice in its last nine games.
Madrid has failed to reverse a first-leg loss the last eight times it needed to, including five times when the return match was at the Bernabeu. It has to remain optimistic this time considering it won all four games at home in this season's Champions League by outscoring opponents 15-0.
"We have 90 minutes left to play and in front of our fans we want to stage a comeback," Real Madrid defender Dani Carvajal said. "We will fight to the death and try to overcome our rival."
Here are a look at the other matches this week:
The matchup between teams trying to establish themselves as European powers is the tightest of the quarterfinals following a 2-2 draw in France.
With the French title long secured, PSG now has the luxury of focusing its resources on Europe, and forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and winger Angel Di Maria were among first-team regulars rested for last weekend's win at Guingamp.
Manchester City is locked in a tough scrap to hold onto fourth place in the Premier League, and despite eight years of big spending, it is still heavily reliant on one of only three players in the City team from when it last hosted PSG in 2008: Captain Vincent Kompany.
The defender has been out for almost a month with a right knee injury but could return to full training ahead of Tuesday's game.
"It is difficult but we will see," coach Manuel Pellegrini said of Kompany's fitness.
Atletico Madrid has plenty of reason to remain positive despite the loss to Barcelona last week, when it played most of the match with 10 men.
In addition to playing at home on Wednesday, the 2014 runners-up will be high on confidence after cutting Barcelona's lead to only three points in the Spanish league after favorable results on the weekend. Atletico won 3-1 at Espanyol, and Barcelona lost 1-0 at Real Sociedad.
Atletico has won six of its last seven league games, while Barcelona's confidence has been dented by three winless games, including a 2-1 home loss to Real Madrid.
Atletico eliminated Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the Champions league in the 2013-14 season after drawing 1-1 at the Camp Nou and winning 1-0 in the second leg.
Winner of its last six games, Bayern Munich heads to Portugal needing a draw to reach the Champions League semifinals for the fifth straight season.
"We'll travel to Lisbon with respect. It's going to be a tough match, but the result in the first leg wasn't so bad," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said after the 1-0 home win.
Benfica, which kept its Portuguese lead by beating Academica 2-1 on Saturday, is trying to reach the semifinals for the first time since the European tournament became known as the Champions League.
Associated Press writers Ciaran Fahey and Rob Harris contributed to this report.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni