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Real prepare for ‘war’ in showdown with Wolfsburg

By Reuters - Apr 11,2016 - Last updated at Apr 11,2016

BARCELONA/LONDON — Real Madrid are determined to create an intimidating atmosphere for visitors VfL Wolfsburg as they try to overturn a two-goal deficit in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.

“Tuesday will be like a war, with 80,000 spectators; we are going to try and walk all over Wolfsburg,” said defender Dani Carvajal.

“We’re going to play to the death and with 80,000 souls behind us we will do it,” added winger Lucas Vazquez.

Forward Cristiano Ronaldo told the club website: “We need to have cold hearts and play with patience and know how to suffer. Getting through is our big objective, it’s the only thing that will let the players and fans leave the stadium happy.”

Madrid are third in La Liga and enjoyed a 4-0 win over Eibar on Saturday to close the gap with leaders Barcelona to four points, lifting their confidence after the shock 2-0 defeat at Wolfsburg last Wednesday.

The German side are eighth in the Bundesliga and were held 1-1 by Mainz on Saturday. Coach Dieter Hecking made four changes from the team that beat Madrid and was without Mario Draxler, the outstanding player last week, through suspension.

Real, 10 times European champions, have a history littered with great comebacks at the Bernabeu, beginning with a 5-1 win over Derby County in the 1975 European Cup after they had lost 4-1 in England.

Madrid beat Inter Milan 3-0 to reach the final of the 1985 UEFA Cup after losing the semifinal first leg 2-0, when midfielder Juanito famously warned Inter: “Ninety minutes in the Bernabeu is a very long time.”

Madrid also staged successful second-leg comebacks against Celtic, Anderlecht, Red Star Belgrade and Borussia Moenchengladbach but their reputation as miracle workers is waning and they last overturned a deficit in 2002 when they beat Bayern Munich 2-0 at the Bernabeu in a quarter-final second leg on their way to winning the trophy.

Since then, Madrid have lost eight first-leg games in the Champions League knockout stages and failed to progress every time, exiting last season’s tournament to Juventus 3-2 on aggregate and managing only a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 semi-finals after losing the first leg 4-1.

Yet, Madrid’s self-belief remains strong.

“We’re going to turn it around because everyone who comes to the stadium and follows us deserves it, our badge deserves it and we work all year for those big nights,” said defender Nacho.

“Real Madrid’s history was written on nights like these and I hope we can do it again on Tuesday,” added director and former striker Emilio Butragueno, who played in the famous comebacks against Inter, Anderlecht and Gladbach.

Wolfsburg, though, are equally determined. “On Tuesday, we’ll be at 100 million per cent, we’re going to run as if our lives depended on it,” forward Andre Schurrle told German news agency DPA.

“Since we beat Real Madrid the entire city has been talking about that game and the second leg. It won’t be easy.”

Madrid striker Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane were injured against Eibar but trained on Sunday and are expected to return to face Wolfsburg.

Transformation

Manchester City look to take an important step in their transformation into one of the world’s leading clubs on Tuesday by reaching the Champions League semifinals for the first time.

To do so England’s last survivors need a win or a 0-0 or 1-1 draw at home to Paris St Germain after holding the Ligue 1 champions 2-2 at the Stade de France last week.

For three successive seasons since first qualifying for Europe’s premier club competition, City were frustrated in their attempts to make significant progress.

They failed to come out of the group stage in 2012-13 and then lost in the last 16 in the following two years.

This time City won Group D ahead of Juventus before knocking out Dinamo Kiev 3-1 on aggregate.

Goals by Kevin de Bruyne and Fernandinho in Paris mean that Manuel Pellegrini’s men have an excellent chance of qualifying for the last four.

Their hopes were boosted when coach Pellegrini said leading scorer Sergio Aguero would be fit despite limping off in the 2-1 Premier League win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

“He had just a kick, it’s not a problem,” the Chilean told reporters.

Pellegrini must decide whether to gamble on the fitness of captain and centre half Vincent Kompany after the defence looked shaky in Paris.

France midfielder Samir Nasri returned for the West Brom game but is not in the Champions League squad because of the lengthy thigh injury he suffered in October.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc was dismayed at conceding a scrappy second goal in the first leg and at losing defender David Luiz and midfielder Blaise Matuidi through suspension.

One bonus could be the return of Marco Verratti who is recovering faster than expected from a groin injury.

Blanc made nine changes, resting a number of players including striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for their 2-0 victory over Guingamp in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

Defender Marquinhos was included and then said he was fit to act as a possible replacement for Luiz on Tuesday.

The French club won 2-1 in England in the last round to knock out Chelsea and reach their fourth successive quarter-final.

 

PSG need a similar result to go one step further this time. 

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