After a blistering start to their campaign, which saw 22 straight wins at one stage, Real Madrid have been in all kinds of trouble since Christmas as their form has largely deserted them. The loss of midfield passmaster Luka Modric must have played a big part in this, as he keeps things ticking so nicely in the engine room.
But Real Madrid’s current form has served as something of a leveller and Schalke will feel that they could hardly be facing the holders at a better time.
Schalke boss Roberto di Matteo has steered the German side into the top 4 in The Bundesliga and a recent draw with Bayern Munchen has served as an illustration that this side has serious resolve.
And, despite Real Madrid’s average form, Schalke will need to be resolute over the two legs. They should go for the jugular early doors in the first leg, in what will be a fantastic atmosphere in their 62,000 capacity Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen.
If an early goal doesn’t come then a 0-0 draw will keep them in the tie and leave Real Madrid concerned about the second leg.
Normally this one would be a walkover for Madrid and they could well embarrass the German side if they hit form. But this could just as easily be a nail-biting and thrilling second round tie.
We will certainly be tuning in for this one.
Prediction: Schalke 1 – 1 Real Madrid
To Qualify: Real Madrid