Real Madrid travel to Schalke this evening for the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie and they’ll be hoping this year will be as good as 12 months ago, when Los Blancos won 6-1 in Germany to book their passage to the next round with ease.
Despite somewhat erratic form since the turn of the year, Real have had no problems in the Champions League this season. They won all six games in the stage, finishing 11 points clear of second placed Basel, and they’ll go into this tie in Germany as heavy favourites.
The hosts finished behind Chelsea in their group, winning two, drawing two and losing two. After a difficult start to the season in the league their form has picked up under new boss Roberto di Matteo – the man who managed Chelsea to the Champions League title in 2013.
In terms of team news, the hosts are without a number of key players including Julian Draxler, Jefferson Farfan, Sead Kolasinac, Leon Goretzka and Chinedu Obasi.
Madrid go into the game with a number of players on the sidelines too. James Rodriguez, Sami Khedira, Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos are all on the injury list. The good news for Los Blancos is the return of Pepe to the squad, although this game may come too soon to start and the pairing of Raphael Varane and Nacho Fernandez should stay in place.
Schalke: Wellenreuther; Howedes, Matip, Nastasic; Kirchhoff; Uchida, Hoger, Barnetta, Fuchs; Boateng, Choupo-Moting
Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Varane, Fernandez, Marcelo; Illarramendi, Kroos, Isco; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo