Ricardo Rodriguez scores for Wolfsburg

If you thought Tuesday’s Champions League matches were exciting, then you were in for quite the show on Wednesday. At first glance, it looked like the only real contest of the night would be Manchester City’s trip to take on Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes. The other fixture featured Real Madrid, who were coming off a massive 2-1 victory in last weekend’s El Clásico, travelling to Germany for a game against an underdog Wolfsburg squad. Zinedine Zidane’s men were apparently still in celebration mode from the weekend as they failed to live up to their superstar status at the Volkswagen Arena.

Madrid thought they had grabbed the lead within the opening minute of the match, only for Cristiano Ronaldo’s close-range effort to be adjudged offsides. The two sides exchanged chances through the opening period of the match with Ronaldo and Bruno Henrique both testing the goalkeepers. Karim Benzema should have given Madrid the lead in the 14th minute when he went one-on-one with Diego Benaglio, but the Swiss keeper made a big save to keep the scoreboard blank.

In the 17th minute, the first real moment of drama popped up in the match. Casemiro apparently made contact with Andre Schürrle while the German winger was trying to get a shot off, and a penalty kick was given for the foul. Ricardo Rodríguez stepped up for the spot kick and sent Keylor Navas the wrong way to give Wolfsburg a shocking lead early in the match. Could they withstand Madrid’s pressure and steal an unlikely first leg victory?

Less than ten minutes later, Wolfsburg’s lead was doubled. Julian Draxler did well to find Henrique on the left wing, and the 25-year-old fizzed in a dangerous ball into the penalty area. Maxi Arnold anticipated the pass brilliantly and tapped in to put the hosts two goals to the good and send a shock to Zidane’s squad.

Real Madrid’s famed BBC attack pushed for a way back into the match, with Benzema nearly heading home Gareth Bale’s cross in the 32nd minute, but the Wolfsburg defense wouldn’t budge. When the whistle blew for the end of the first half, Madrid found themselves in an unexpected position, and Wolfsburg were in dreamland. How would the two respond in the second half?

Los Blancos came out fighting to start the last 45 minutes of play, but it was the same story as the start of the match. Even with all of their pressure, nobody could figure out a way to put a shot on target. Bale was the team’s driving force and was unlucky that his teammates couldn’t find the back of the net. In the 68th minute, Schürrle came close delivering the dagger only for his powerful drive to sail over the bar.

The longer they went without a breakthrough, the more frustrated Madrid began to look on the field. Ronaldo had a great chance to get on the score sheet in the 73rd minute, but Benaglio once again did just enough to stop CR7 from scoring. They could have been 3-0 down going into the second leg if it wasn’t for a key save from Navas on Max Kruse in the 88th minute.

When the final whistle blew, Wolfsburg fans celebrated a wonderful 2-0 victory and dreams of reaching the Champions League semifinals started to look more like a reality. Zidane took responsibility for the loss after the match, but regardless of where the blame falls the Spanish giants now have a mountain to climb if they hope to add an 11th European title. At home, Madrid are undefeated in Europe this season, and will need a superb performance next week if they hope to avoid a disastrous early exit.


Tags: , , , , , ,