European heavyweights Real Madrid reach Germany determined to beat Schalke at home
Gelsenkirchen: Having routed Schalke on their last Gelsenkirchen visit, Real Madrid return to Germany for Champions League last 16, first-leg, clash with Toni Kroos warning the Spanish giants against complacency.
Toni Kroos. Pic/Getty Images
Real ran riot at Schalke's Veltins Arena at exactly the same stage of the competition last February when Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale each scored two goals in a 6-1 thrashing as part of a 9-2 aggregate victory.
It was Schalke's heaviest European home defeat until the margin was matched when Chelsea drubbed the hosts 5-0 in Gelsenkirchen in the group stages last November.
Madrid have won only three of their 27 trips to Germany, but two of victories came last year when they smashed Schalke, then routed Bayern Munich 4-0 at home in the semi-final, second-leg.
Holders Real will arrive in Germany with a lengthy walking-wounded list with Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Sami Khedira and Fabio Coentrao all out injured.
Carlo Ancelotti's Spanish league leaders are struggling for form after being hammered 4-0 at Atletico Madrid ten days ago and laboured to a 2-0 home win over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.
"You don't win anything by going through the motions, that also goes for Real Madrid," said their Germany midfielder Kroos. "If we have two good days, we can go very far, but only then."
Real defender Pepe is rated as doubtful as he recovers from a rib injury. Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is struggling with the patella tendon injury in his left knee that affected him towards the end of last season and at the World Cup.
The Ballon d'Or winner has not scored in the last three games and has come under-fire since being sent off last month in the narrow win at Cordoba.
He was heavily criticised for hosting his 30th birthday party hours after Real were thrashed by Atletico. Attacking midfielder Isco says Real are at their best when under pressure.
"What's great about this team is that it's able to pick itself up from the tough situations," said the 22-year-old who scored against Deportivo.