He may have only inherited the Madrid hotseat in January, but there is a growing feeling in Spain that Zinedine Zidane’s long-term future as head coach hinges on the outcome of this encounter. After all, Madrid is a club that tends to define itself on how well it does each season in the Champions League, despite the fact that they have lifted the famous trophy just once since their 2002 triumph.
With president Florentino Perez said to be fluttering his eyelashes in the direction of the currently available Jose Mourinho, it is looking increasingly likely that Zidane must mastermind a triumphant comeback if he is to retain his position beyond the summer. The equation for Los Blancos is simple: A 3-0 win gets them through, while a 2-0 victory sends the tie into extra-time. However, were Wolfsburg to score an away goal, that leaves Madrid needing four of their own.
Despite the desperate need for goals, Zidane has urged his players to show some caution: “This is a big match, but you need a cool head to play in it. We are not going to win it in [the first] ten or 15 minutes. It could be more difficult if they score, but that can happen. We must be focused from minute one. We have to score, but we have 90 minutes to do so. We need to be patient.” Madrid found themselves in identical situations against Inter Milan and Celtic in 1985 and 1980 respectively and on both occasions they recorded 3-0 wins in front of their own supporters.