Real Don’t Sur­vive the Wolf At­tack

Wolfs­burg make a stun­ning Champions League quar­ters de­but with a win over the Span­ish gi­ants

The Economic Times - - Sports - Karo­los Grohmann

Vf L Wolfs­burg threw their stut­ter­ing sea­son a spec­tac­u­lar life­line with a 2-0 Champions League quar­ter-fi­nal first leg vic­tory over Real Madrid on Wed­nes­day, con­tin­u­ing a Euro­pean voy­age of dis­cov­ery against a back­drop of do­mes­tic frus­tra­tion. Last year’s Ger­man Cup win­ners and Bun­desliga run­ners-up had started the sea­son with high hopes of main­tain­ing their role as Bay­ern Mu­nich’s main ri­vals, but the Wolves have been un­able to mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge for hon­ours on the home front. The cam­paign started well with a Su­per­cup vic­tory over Bay­ern but they suf­fered their first ma­jor set­back when in­flu­en­tial play­maker Kevin De Bruyne joined Manch­ester City for a re­ported 75 mil­lion eu­ros ($85.47 mil­lion) in late Au­gust.

Wolfs­burg then had to deal with the po­ten­tial fall­out from car maker and owner Volkswagen’s emis­sions scan­dal, fear­ing it could hurt their fi­nances.

Things got even worse dur­ing the mid­dle of the cam­paign when Bas Dost, the club’s top scorer last sea­son, suf­fered a bro­ken foot dur­ing the win­ter break.

Wolfs­burg’s at­tack­ing op­tions were de­pleted fur­ther when Nick­las Bend­nter was barred from train­ing af­ter the Dan­ish striker, who has dis­ap­pointed since ar­riv­ing from Arse­nal in 2014, was ac­cused of lack­ing com­mit­ment by club bosses. A re­cent slump i n for m has seen Wolfs­burg score just once in their last three league games and slip down to eighth in the Bun­desliga, leav­ing coach Di­eter Heck­ing pon­der­ing the prospectofno Euro­pean­foot­ball of any kind next sea­son. How­ever, when Wolfs­burg handed 10time champions Real Madrid a first de- feat in the tour­na­ment this sea­son, their for­tunes were in­stantly re­vived by a stun­ning quar­ter-fi­nal de­but in Europe’s elite com­pe­ti­tion. “We did ev­ery­thing we had set out to do and that was to play with courage, con­trol the ball and use our speed,” sports di­rec­tor Klaus Allofs told re­porters.

“There were a lot of peo­ple who ex­pected us to lose heav­ily against Real. But it did not hap­pen. We will now try to get some­thing out of this start­ing po­si­tion,” he said of next Tues­day’s re­turn leg in Madrid. While the two-goal ad­van­tage may still not guar­an­tee a spot in the last four, Wolfs­burg have ev­ery right to be brim­ming with con­fi­dence af­ter they neu­tralised the threat posed by Real’s po­tent at­tack on the big­gest Euro­pean night in club his­tory. “We know what to ex­pect there,” Heck­ing added. “But we are in a po­si­tion to score a goal and elim­i­nate Real from the com­pe­ti­tion.”

In the other last-8 game of the nigh, Manch­ester City and PSG played out a 2-2 draw

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