Wolfsburg (+1000) at Real Madrid (-500), Draw (+620)
A surprising result last week has Real Madrid on the verge of elimination as they host Wolfsburg in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals tomorrow at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid (2:45 PM Eastern).
Madrid were one of the biggest favorites to get to the semis from the four quarterfinal matchups. Wolfsburg looked like a favorable draw and they were rolling going in, having just knocked off Barcelona on the road.
But a 2-0 setback in Germany gives them a mountain to climb at home this week. Since 1992, when the Champions League started, only two teams have come back from a 2-0 deficit to advance. (Barcelona came back against AC Milan in 2013 and Man U did it against Olympiakos in 2014.) If Madrid don’t become the third team to do so, they’ll see their streak of semifinal appearances end at five.
The loss in the first leg was the first time in seven UCL games that Real goalie Keylor Navas conceded a goal. But Real’s failure to score on the road makes tomorrow’s game even more complicated. Madrid have to be aggressive to get the two-goal win they need, but they also have to keep a clean sheet, otherwise they’ll need at least four goals to advance.
Looking at their recent results, the win for Wolfsburg came out of nowhere. The team hasn’t won in its last four Bundesliga games (0-2-2) and only advanced to the quarterfinals thanks to a very favorable draw in the Round of 16, facing Belgian side Gent (advancing 4-2 on aggregate).
Wolfsburg got tallies from Ricardo Rodriguez (18′, penalty) and Max Arnold (25′) in game one against Real. The German side has never reached the UCL semifinals before and still has a lot of work to do, but they’ve managed to score in three of their four away games this UCL season.
The handicap has Real Madrid (-2) paying at +120 and Wolfsburg (+2) at +127. This will be the first time Wolfsburg have ever played at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and I expect the stage to be a little too big for them.
Pick: Real Madrid (-2).
(Photo Credit: Ver en vivo En Directo (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])