Schalke - Real Madrid Preview: In-form Blancos out to end German voodoo
Carlo Ancelotti's men travel to the Veltins Arena on a high after taking a three-point lead at the top of La Liga at the weekend
By Matthew Rogerson
Real Madrid can arrest their poor record in Germany by beating Schalke on Wednesday as they look to take a big step towards the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Spanish giants travel to the Veltins Arena for the first-leg of their last 16 tie with Schalke having won just one of their previous 25 visits to German opposition, with their solitary victory coming against Bayer Leverkusen in 2000.
However, Carlo Ancelotti's in-form side should be confident going into the clash in Gelsenkirchen, having moved three points clear at the top of La Liga last weekend.
Ancelotti's charges have won 15 of their last 16 in all competitions, conceding just twice in their last five outings, and were also the leading scorers in the Champions League group stages.
With Cristiano Ronaldo providing nine goals, a record for the group stage, Real found the net 20 times as they dominated a pool which included Galatasaray, Juventus and Copenhagen.
Ronaldo has missed his side's last three league games through suspension but is expected to return to the starting XI on Wednesday, with Ancelotti, who tasted victory over Schalke with Milan in the 2005-06 Champions League, stating his intention to field a full-strength line-up.
"Before we play Schalke we'll have to see how [recent injury victims] Marcelo and [Fabio] Coentrao are," the Madrid coach told reporters.
"We will play the strongest possible team. Now all the matches are extremely important. It might be a case of whoever doesn't play on Wednesday will play on Sunday [against Atletico Madrid]."
Schalke are also in impressive domestic form, enjoying a 100 per cent record since the Bundesliga's winter break until Friday's goalless draw with Mainz.
While that stalemate ended their winning run, they remain in the top four in the Bundesliga and have been boosted by the return of Julian Draxler following an ankle injury.
Draxler could line up alongside the likes of Kevin-Prince Boateng, Max Meyer and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, with the latter set to feature against his former club.
The Netherlands international expects his side to ask questions of Real's defence.
"I think our best weapon is our attacking play. We can score a goal at any point during the match and we are always a threat up front," Huntelaar told Marca.
"You know that Germany tends to be a nightmare for Real Madrid. It's a good sign but we will see what happens. After all, this is football."
While Real have a poor record on German soil, Schalke will be well aware of the need to secure a positive result on Wednesday, having not won any of their last seven games in Spain.
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Top 3 Predictions
FC Schalke 04 0-4 Real Madrid
- 18.82 %
FC Schalke 04 0-3 Real Madrid
- 17 %
FC Schalke 04 1-3 Real Madrid
- 15.9 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||26 Feb 2014||FC Schalke 04 1 - Real Madrid 6|
|FC Schalke 04|
|8 Mar 2014||FC Schalke 04 4 - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 0||BUN|
|1 Mar 2014||FC Bayern München 5 - FC Schalke 04 1||BUN|
|26 Feb 2014||FC Schalke 04 1 - Real Madrid 6||UCL|
|21 Feb 2014||FC Schalke 04 0 - 1. FSV Mainz 05 0||BUN|
|15 Feb 2014||Bayer Leverkusen 1 - FC Schalke 04 2||BUN|
|17||Jefferson Agustin Farfán||Striker|
|19||Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi||Striker|
|22||Ángel Di María||Midfielder|
|25||Diego López Rodríguez||Goalkeeper|