Despite Cristiano Ronaldo & Co sneaking into the Last 8 of the premier European competition, Real Madrid fans jeer team off the pitch after 3-4 defeat to Schalke
Madrid: Real Madrid may have made the Last Eight of the Champions League for a fifth consecutive season, but their Bernabeu faithful also reached the end of their patience after a humiliating 3-4 home defeat to Schalke on Tuesday.
Cristiano Ronaldo walks off the pitch after the defeat to Schalke on Tuesday
The reigning champions sneaked through 5-4 on aggregate thanks to their 2-0 success in Gelsenkirchen three weeks ago. The holders looked well set for a place in the Last Eight for a fifth consecutive season after the 2-0 win three weeks ago, but they were given an almighty scare as Schalke twice took the lead in the first-half through Christian Fuchs and Klass-Jan Huntelaar.
Ronaldo twice responded to take his tally in European competitions to 78. Karim Benzema then put the hosts in front on the night early in the second-half, but Schalke earned a fully merited win thanks to further strikes from Leroy Sane and Huntelaar.
Shame and anger
Qualification was met with a series of boos and whistles as Real's Galactico stars were left in no doubt that their disastrous run of form will not be tolerated by a famously demanding fanbase. That anger was reflected on the front pages of Madrid's sports pages on Wednesday. The normally pro-Real paper Marca describing the Bernabeu in a state of panic, whilst the headline in AS led "to the quarter-finals with shame".
Bale, Casillas slammed
Gareth Bale and captain Iker Casillas were singled out for special criticism. Casillas has endured a love-hate relationship with the Bernabeu for the past three seasons ever since he clashed with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho during his last campaign in charge of Madrid.
The 33-year-old said afterwards that "we have hit rock bottom in a spectacular way", whilst also accepting critics of his display in which he was at least partly at fault in Schalke's first three goals. However, Casillas is also expected to be coming towards the end of a remarkable 18-year career at Madrid with Manchester United's David de Gea being heavily linked with a return to his homeland.
Bale, on the other hand, is just in his second season after being signed for a reportedly world record fee from Tottenham Hotspur. Back in December the Welshman was nicknamed "the finals man" by the Spanish press after adding a goal in the Club World Cup win over San Lorenzo to his decisive strikes to win the Copa del Rey and the Champions League against Barcelona and Atletico Madrid respectively last season. Even in his debut season, though, Bale would often have little impact on games before turning up in the right place in the right time or smashing home a wonder goal.
Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas insists he and his teammates are just as annoyed with their recent drop in form as their supporters. "The Bernabeu want to see their team win. We understand the concerns among the crowd, their whistles and the disapproval they showed at certain moments. The sooner we can achieve that rapport with the fans, the better for us," he told his club’s official website.