Madrid: Spanish football club Real Madrid's German international midfielder Tony Kroos has predicted that his side will have to work a lot harder than they did last year in order to get past German team Schalke 04 in the Champions League.
Last season Real Madrid dispatched Schalke 9-2 on aggregate on their way to conquering their 11th Champions League title, sealing the tie in the first leg when they won 6-1 in Germany, reports Xinhua.
Kroos was not part of that Madrid side, having joined from Bayern Munich this summer, but he expects Schalke, who are currently fourth in the German league to provide a sterner test this time around when Madrid return to Germany Wednesday.
"They're having success in the Bundesliga and with their new coach (Roberto Di Matteo) they are very solid defensively. We have players so it will be a tough challenge but our goal is to progress to the next round."
"We need to produce two good performances in order to qualify," said Kroos, who has adapted seamlessly to life in Spain after his move from Bayern.
"The differences are not that great, so the change was not difficult for me because I did not move from a small team to a big team, or the other way around. I changed from one great team to another," he explained.
He said Real Madrid's style of play was different to Bayern's but believes that is down to the tactics of coach Carlo Ancelotti, who prefers to play him in a holding midfield role, rather than in the advanced position he enjoyed with Bayern.
"He trusted me from the beginning in a position where I had not played that much. I enjoy playing there. Our relationship is good, we talk to each other before every game, we talk about how I should approach each game depending on the opponent we're facing. Ancelotti is one of the reasons why I came to this club," confirmed Kroos.
The German said he was looking forward to the knockout stage of the Champions League.
"At this point the games are more even and you're facing the best teams in Europe. The biggest challenge is showing how well you can do in this competition every year," he said.