Cristiano Ronaldo to run riot as Real Madrid return to Schalke
Coral are offering some cracking prices as Champions League holders Real Madrid, odds-on at 4/9 for a first leg victory, continue to defend their crown by returning to Gelsenkirchen to duel with Schalke.
Once again the focus is on Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, with Los Blancos’ superstar available at a fantastic 3/1 to bag a brace or better, in another tasty matchday special. The maximum stake for this brilliant bet is £20, but this means punters could potentially earn an incredible £80 return and make a cool £60 profit.
Real’s all-time top scorer in Europe, Portugal skipper and sensation Ronaldo bagged a brace in both of Madrid’s quarter-final clashes with Schalke last campaign, making this offer incredible value.
If that delectable deal doesn’t tickle your fancy, however, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, who also grabbed two goals each in Los Blancos’ 6-1 drubbing of the Bundesliga battlers last term, are 9/2 and 5/1 to net first and last respectively.
Meanwhile, former Bayern Munich creator Toni Kroos (7/2 to strike anytime) will return to his homeland for the first time since switching to the Bernabeu in summer. With midfield partners Luka Modric and James Rodriguez sidelined, the German international will have to be at his best alongside a resurgent Isco.
The Royal Blues will be keen to avoid another rout on home turf, but rampant Real, who have netted an incredible 72 times in 23 La Liga games, are a superb 17/5 to score four or more.
Roberto Di Matteo certainly has pedigree in this competition after lifting the trophy with Chelsea back in 2012, and will have to utilise all his experience to steer Schalke to success (of which they have an outside chance of 7/1).
Perhaps a draw at 7/2 in this thrilling first leg is more achievable, but the Gelsenkirchen club will need to work hard to shut out the Spanish giants.
“We learned from our defeat last year. But we have also improved, we are a different team now,” stated Di Matteo, who has made Schalke much sturdier in defence.
In a boost for the home team, keeper Fabian Giefer could return to the starting XI, whilst Manchester City-owned centre back Matija Nastasic could make his Royal Blues European bow alongside highly-rated Benedikt Howedes.
Having conceded just 23 times in 23 Bundesliga battles, Schalke must concentrate instead on punishing Los Blancos on the break.
Real are expected to still be without first choice centre half pairing Pepe and Sergio Ramos, which could make this clash a much more even encounter.
Schalke will welcome back sensational sharpshooter Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who is currently serving a six-game Bundesliga ban, but free to play in Europe.
The Dutch dangerman was the only player to breach Los Blancos’ backline last term and is 11/4 to do so again at anytime. Meanwhile, top scorer Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting is 8/1 to wreak revenge on Real by striking first, and group stage goal hero Max Meyer is 16/1 to close the scoring.