Schalke hold no Real hope in Champions League Bernabeu battle
Real Madrid welcome Bundesliga outfit Schalke to the Bernabeu for the second leg of their Champions League last 16 encounter, having secured a comfortable 2-0 first leg lead in Germany.
The reigning European champions, 3/1 favourites with Coral to retain their title this term, will be confident of capitalising on their two-goal advantage, with strikes from Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo earning the Galacticos a strong advantage.
However, Carlo Ancelotti’s second-placed La Liga outfit have struggled in recent weeks, and come into their latest European match-up on the back of another disappointing domestic defeat at the hands of Athletic Bilbao.
Madrid were toppled thanks to an early Aritz Adruiz header at the San Mames Barria, with their Italian boss Ancelotti declaring that he must take all of the blame for recent poor results.
“The team has a problem in that we need to have a clearer idea of what we’re doing in attack,” said Ancelotti. “We don’t circulate the ball fast enough and the strikers are not getting any chances.”
Los Blancos were also held to a recent lacklustre 1-1 home draw by Villarreal, leaving bitter rivals Barcelona to take their place at the Spanish league summit.
“It’s weird to say that Real Madrid have troubles in attack because we have scored many goals but it’s true. My team is playing poorly and I have to take all the responsibility,” Ancelotti continued.
“But I will not give up because the league is complicated and it is not finished. We will work hard to turn things around.”
The hosts will have to bounce back quickly and rediscover their usual free-scoring form, with Schalke having secured a 3-1 triumph over Hoffenheim in their previous German league outing.
However, Roberto Di Matteo’s men, 14/1 to win, are on a poor run of form on their travels this season, having picked up just a single victory in their previous five league games on the road, including three losses.
Madrid will welcome back midfield maestro Luka Modric to the squad, following a hip injury last November while on international duty with Croatia, and the influential playmaker is 11/2 to net anytime during 90 minutes on his return to competitive action.
There will be no record-breaking Champions League appearance for new Madrid signing and wonderkid Martin Odegaard, after his omission from the squad. If the starlet had featured, he would have become the youngest player ever in the history of this competition.
Despite recent criticism over his stuttering showings, Ronaldo still managed to strike in the first leg in Germany, and is available at 5/2 to net two or more in 90 minutes this time out, after already securing six European goals so far this term.
Former Chelsea coach Di Matteo will be relying on star striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to lead his frontline, having struck in this fixture last year. The deadly Dutch danger is 7/2 to bag another goal anytime in 90 minutes against his former employers.
Ancelotti’s men will hope their two-goal advantage will be enough to see them into the quarter-final stage of this year’s competition, with recent history also on their side, having won all three previous meetings.
Real are even-money to secure a victory to nil and edge closer towards retaining their European crown in Berlin this season.