La Liga seems to be alive again, but Real Madrid must shift their focus to the UEFA Champions League. After losing 2-0 at Wolfsburg, the team must really go all out and revert the result to access the semi-finals. The rest of the season could be affected by whatever happens on Tuesday, meaning it’s now or never for Ronaldo and company. Wolfsburg showed they can do harm, so a surprise isn’t out of the question.
Preferred Formation: 4-3-3
Zinedine Zidane rested many players over the weekend against Eibar. This was a very smart move and it also showed him that some substitutes can deliver. However, he’s most likely retaining his ideal eleven for this clash. He needs to have a solid defense, but also have the talent up top to tip the scale in Los Blancos’ direction. Apart from picking the right men, the coach must prepare them mentally to avoid careless mistakes.
GK: Keylor Navas
One of a long list of players that didn’t have to play on Saturday. Conceding goals will be the biggest problem, as it will give Wolfsburg a stronger advantage. He needs to stand out more than ever.
RB: Dani Carvajal
He did play in La Liga, yet he left early enough to not stress himself ahead of this challenge. Danilo’s poor performance in the first leg makes Carvajal’s presence a sure bet. He provides a better defense-attack balance.
The center of the defense didn’t look well in the previous match. Arnold, Draxler and others have what it takes to do some damage. Since Varane also trained with his teammates on Sunday, he could bench the Portuguese.
CB: Sergio Ramos
He was suspended and missed the 4-0 win. His form has been poor and his leadership has been lacking as well. If Varane is finally available to return, there’s a chance the captain could end up out of the lineup.
The Brazilian rested thanks to Álvaro Arbeloa. On his good days, he can be one of the best weapons for breaking the rival’s defense. He must be intense when going forward, but careful not to leave his wing wide open.
RCM: Luka Modrić
Like Keylor Navas, he wasn’t even called up to meet Eibar. His health is important for the team’s balance. He needs to be one of the leaders on Tuesday, as scoring some goals early can be extremely helpful.
Despite the importance Zidane has given him in the past month, he played for an hour before Kovačić came in. He was key in covering the defense’s many mistakes in the first leg, and he must do the same this time.
LCM: Toni Kroos
Isco and James’ appearances kept him in the bench for a well-deserved break. The freedom that Casemiro gives him from defensive tasks should be put to good use. He should try to shoot from a distance when possible.
RW: Gareth Bale
Another one of several players that didn’t have to suit up last weekend. He was arguably the best Madrid player in the Volkswagen Arena. His teammates should exploit his speed by finding enough space for him to run.
ST: Karim Benzema
His presence still isn’t guaranteed because of his injury. Nevertheless, he did train with his teammates on Sunday. It will all come down to the vibrations ahead of the game. James, Jesé or Lucas Vázquez could come in if he doesn’t make it.
LW: Cristiano Ronaldo
He scored and assisted on Saturday. This type of performance should be standard for this crucial match. The whole crowd will be looking at him to revert a knockout catastrophe from happening again.