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Wolfsburg vs. Real Madrid, 2016 Champions League draw: Cristiano Ronaldo takes on Nicklas Bendtner

Finally, we'll see who is the greatest footballer in the world.

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

An interesting tie, this one. Real Madrid will have been quietly delighted to avoid Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, while Wolfsburg will probably be quite pleased that of all the big guns they could have got, they got the strangest. Madrid will be favorites, of course, but Wolfsburg shouldn't be underestimated.


At the beginning of the tournament, the idea of Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals would have seemed like a long shot. But fortune threw them some kindly draws -- a group stage against a mess of a Manchester United side, then a last-16 tie against Belgian side Gent -- and they took advantage. A stylish 3-2 win over United was the signature performance in the groups, and they saw off the Belgians without too much difficulty.

All that said, their domestic form has been mixed. Eighth in the Bundesliga, they look unlikely to re-qualify for the Champions League next season and have been particularly vulnerable away from home. So, they'll want to do as much as possible in the first leg: if they go to the Bernabeu needing anything too daunting, they might be in trouble.

Key player: Nicklas Bendtner Julian Draxler

After the departure of Kevin du Bruyne over the summer, Draxler is the focal point of Wolfsburg attack, and it's almost as simple as saying when he plays well, Wolfsburg play well. Luckily for him, Real Madrid aren't the most assiduous defensive team, so he should at least expect to find some space. (Bendtner will probably be on the bench, if he's in the squad at all. Sadly.)

Real Madrid

Even by their own high standards, Real Madrid are having a very Real Madrid season. The Rafa Benitez experiment ground to a predictable, messy, highly amusing end, and Florentino Perez promptly handed the managerial reins to the most famous person he could see at that moment, the great Zinedine Zidane. Who has been doing okay, sort of. The squad's lopsided, the mood is tetchy, and the Spanish title is probably out of reach ... but this is the tournament they really care about.

Under Benitez, they made it though the group stage without too much trouble, but they made heavy going of their Round of 16 game against Roma, and were grateful for some wonky finishing from the Italians. There's always the feeling that they are there to be got at, that a well-organized team can overcome the inevitable glamour gap and cause them real problems. Equally, there's always the fact that they're really, really good at scoring goals. Particularly ...

Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo

As Ronaldo gets older and transitions from devastating all-around attacker to a kind of highly refined penalty box predator, you might expect the goals to dry up just a touch. Not a bit of it. Ronaldo has already scored more Champions League goals this season than in any other bar the one that Real Madrid won, and he'll fancy his chances against Wolfsburg's defense. Maybe the team doesn't always make sense. Maybe it doesn't always have to.


Lots and lots of lovely goals, Nicklas Bendtner Julian Draxler will be brilliant, and Real Madrid will look like a bit of a mess before progressing thanks to Ronaldo being ridiculous. Then Bendtner Draxler will move to Spain for eleventy squillion euros. (Bendtner will not score.)