Despite the unsuccessful history Real Madrid have when playing in Germany, it’s hard not to consider them as huge favorites considering their league form, the quality of their squad, the returning Cristiano Ronaldo and just how shaky Schalke have been this season.
Not recently though. The German club has climbed to 4th in the Bundesliga, winning four of their last five matches before their 0-0 home draw against Mainz last weekend. There isn’t one player making the difference, but it’s hard to say Klaas-Jan Huntelaar returning from an injury hasn’t had its benefits, while Jefferson Farfan and Max Meyer have also been fantastic for more than a month.
But not everything is positive for Schalke going into the match: They’ve lost three times out of their four matches against Spanish teams when playing in Germany when facing them in the Champions League, and they’ve failed to score in three of their last four UCL matches. Julian Draxler has been almost the sole creator, as a scorer or provider, for them this season in the competition, which might make it quite easy for Real Madrid to cut the line of supply.
The Spanish giants are once again top of the La Liga, having no problem handling Ronaldo’s suspension and slightly dip in form by getting more out of others: Gareth Bale, Jese, Angel di Maria and even Isco coming back to life. History tells us that Real Madrid have been knocked out of the competition the last three times they’ve clashed with German sides, but Schalke aren’t Bayern or Dortmund of the last two years, and Real Madrid just might be the best side not called Bayern Munich this season.
Cristiano Ronaldo, with his nine goals in the competition this season, is aching to return and start scoring again. Facing a shaky Schalke defense, which has conceded 30 goals in 22 matches this season in the Bundesliga, is good news for him, although he might look a little bit rusty which has been part of his entire play since we moved into 2014.
Prediction – It’s been about away teams almost exclusively so far in the knockout stage, and this match shouldn’t be any different. Real Madrid have bad history in Germany, but they’re too good to mess this one up, and should come away with a win.