A memorable win in the Clasico last weekend has Real Madrid fans dreaming of a record 11th Champions League trophy. Something that would restore pride to what has been a miserable season for Madridista’s.
But on Wednesday night in Germany, Real Madrid reverted to form and they were throughly beaten 2-0 by Wolfsburg at the Volkswagen Arena, A defeat that leaves them on the brink of Champions League elimination.
The defeat exposed all of Madrid’s weaknesses. Zinedine Zidane once again was outcoached as he had no apparent plan on how to contain Julian Draxler while Danilo at right-back had a night to forget.
But the most worrying thing for Zidane and Real president Florentino Pérez was the lack of effort. The Real Madrid players ran a total 104,137 meters, there lowest number in Europe this season and over 7,000 meters less than they ran at home to Roma in the last league.
It was this lack of effort that led former Real Madrid midfielder Steve McManaman to blast his former club on TV saying:
‘I thought they were woeful, I really did. From the highs of getting a good result on Saturday to really low lows tonight.
‘Defensively the right back (Danilo) and left back (Marcelo) were just all over the place, coupled with Pepe and (Sergio) Ramos who looked like they hadn’t played with each other before. I was astounded as to how bad they were. I expected a real calm, measured performance as well.
‘It was like schoolboy, Under 10s or Under 12s defending. Marcelo walks across with his arms behind his back [for Wolfsburg’s second goal] and (Maximilian) Arnold gets two yards ahead of Ramos.
‘It seems like the manager just prays on the sidelines that they get it together. It looks as if they just freestyle.
‘It just looks horrific. You can’t blame the manager because he’s just said to the same team which played against Barcelona on Saturday – apart from the right back Danilo – “go out and do it again”.
‘I don’t know why he changed the right back because Danilo was terrible. But Marcelo, Ramos and Pepe, who played well on Saturday, go out and turn out performances like that. The whole team should be lambasted and the manager will take a hit. You can’t have super Zidane on the paper on Sunday and then not say anything today.
‘(Gareth) Bale should have had a penalty in the fourth minute but that is no excuse for the next 90 minutes. They literally downed tools.’
While Real Madrid were poor, lets not take anything away from Wolfsburg who are on the verge of reaching the Champions League semi-finals
Their tactics were perfect. They were content to give Madrid the ball (Madrid held the ball more with 60% possession) and hit the Spanish side with speed and accuracy on the counter-attack. Wolfsburg only had 10 shots with six of them on target proving to be much more efficient in front of goal.
That is what has to worry Zidane for the second leg next week as Wolfsburg’s tactics will be the same. Sit deep and exploit the gaps in the Real Madrid defense on the counter.
To make the challenge even more difficult for the Spanish side, they have not overcome a first leg UCL deficit since 2002!