Champions should coast into the quarter-finals
Real Madrid’s domestic form must be worrying Carlo Ancelotti but it’s inconceivable that his side will throw away a two-goal lead against Schalke in the Bernabeu and not progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
The defending champions cruised to victory in Gelsenkirchen two weeks ago with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo and beat the same opponents 9-2 on aggregate at the same stage of the competition 12 months ago.
They probably won’t match that margin of victory on this occasion as there is little incentive and their coach will just want to see a more composed performance from his players than of late.
Los Blancos lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday to concede the summit of the Primera Liga to Barcelona, who put six past Rayo Vallecano. Real had earlier been held at home by Villareal and the repercussions are still being felt from last month’s thrashing at the hands of Atletico Madrid.
There are rumours that the dressing-room spirit is not what it should be at the Bernabeu so it will be interesting to see what happens as we approach the climax of the campaign but Ancelotti’s team are still bidding for a record 11th successive victory on the continent and a record-equalling 12th home win on the spin in the Champions League and it’s hard to see Schalke upsetting the apple cart.
Former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo’s team are 23/2 to win in Spain but will have to pull off the apparently impossible without the suspended Kevin-Prince Boateng, one of their key men.
Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Hoffenheim was their first in five matches and, despite Real’s lack of goals lately, it would be a shock of huge proportions if they were to turn the tie on its head as Real could welcome back Luka Modric, though James Rodriguez is still missing.
The Spaniards won easily in Germany without hitting top gear and expect them to get the job done efficiently in front of their own fans without having to scale the heights again. Real are 14/5 to win by two goals and are 1/2 to be winning at both half time and full time.
The match kicks off at 7.45pm on Tuesday, March 10 at the Bernabeu.