Zinedine Zidane has preached the need for patience ahead of his Real Madrid side’s attempt to overturn a 2-0 deficit against Wolfsburg in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday. The 10-time European champions suffered a shock loss in Germany last week, thanks to early goals from Ricardo Rodríguez and Max Arnold.
Only twice in the 24-year history of the Champions League has a team overcome a 2-0 first-leg defeat. Yet Zidane is keen that his team not throw caution to the wind from the first minute, with the knowledge that a Wolfsburg away goal would leave Madrid needing to score four.
"We know it's an important game but it's not going to be won in 10 or 15 minutes," he said in his pre-match press conference, according to Spanish sports daily AS. "It's true that it'll be more complicated if they score but we have to concentrate from first till the last minute. They know what lies ahead of us and what we have to do. We have to score, but there are ninety minutes to do that, not only five. The message is patience."
Zidane insists he retains full confidence that his team can pull off the comeback and pointed to the reigniting of their La Liga title hopes as inspiration. Real Madrid were 12 points behind leaders Barcelona just over three weeks ago, but a 4-0 win over Eibar on Saturday, coupled with another slip up for the Catalans, has left the gap at just four points.
Confidence for Madrid can also e drawn from the fact that the victory over Eibar kept their average number of goals scored at the Bernabeu since Zidane took over at over four.
The cost of failure would be significant, however, particularly given the fact that Real Madrid have been ousted before the semifinal stage of the Champions League since 2010. In contrast, Wolfsburg had never even been beyond the group stage of the competition prior to this season.
The domestic performance of Dieter Hecking’s side has provided little hint for the achievement that now stands before them. Having finished runners-up to Bayern Munich last season, a 1-1 home draw with Mainz on Saturday left them sitting eighth in the Bundesliga and all but certain to miss out on next season’s Champions League. Unless they were to win it this season, of course. Hecking, though, remains happy to play the underdog role going into the second leg.
"We can achieve something historic for the club,” he said. "We are not so presumptuous as to think the 2-0 form the first game is enough. We had said before that we will need two exceptional days if we are to progress. We had one last week in Wolfsburg, tomorrow we need the second. If you compare the clubs, it’s clear who are the favorites. We are hoping to topple the favorites though."
For what is the biggest game in the club’s history, Hecking will be boosted by having a full squad at his disposal, with the exception of long-term casualty Sebastian Jung. Despite James Rodríguez, Lucas Vázquez and Jesé Rodríguez all getting on the scoresheet in the win over Eibar, Zidane is set to name the same midfield and forward lineup he utilized in the first leg. The one change from the team may be the replacing of Danilo with Dani Carvajal at right-back.
Kickoff time: 2:45 p.m. EDT
TV channel: Fox Sports 2