Attention switches to the Champions League tonight, with Real Madrid visiting Schalke in the first-leg of their last-16 encounter.
Real head into the match on a 26-game unbeaten run, and welcome the return of star man Cristiano Ronaldo, who has sat out the last three La Liga fixtures through suspension. The Portugal captain has scored nine goals in just five Champions League group games so far this campaign and looking to overtake Zlatan Ibrahimovich as this season’s top scorer.
If that wasn’t enough for the Schalke defence to think about, they will have to contend with Gareth Bale too, who Carlos Ancelotti has said will start over Jese Rodriguez. It means the BBC trio (Bale, Benzema and Cristiano) is together again for the first time in a month.
It won’t all be plain sailing for Los Blancos though – they have a terrible record in Germany – just one win in 25 in all visits to the country. And Schalke possess some dangerous players in their midst. Although they have come unstuck against the bigger teams this season, losing twice to Chelsea in the group stage, and suffering defeats to Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in their domestic league, they did beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in last season’s Champions League.
Julian Draxler has recovered from a hip injury and should take his place in the staring line-up, while Los Blancos will be facing a familiar face in Klaas-jan Huntelaar, who spent six months in the Spanish capital.
Schalke 04 (4-2-3-1): Fährmann; Kolasinac, Höwedes, Matip, Hoogland; Neustädter, Boateng; Draxler, Meyer, Farfan; Huntelaar
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Casillas; Marcelo, Ramos, Pepe, Arbeloa; Di Maria, Alonso, Modric; Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale