Tomorrow night, Real Madrid will play their second-leg match against Schalke 04 in a match where they may be able to take their foot off the pedal after winning the first leg 1-6.
During the first leg, Los Merengues visited Germany in a game where people were a little nervous about given Real Madrid’s record against the German teams. With all the fears and worries, Real Madrid were able to come out with a very strong result to take into the second-leg as they were able to win 6-1.
For my full preview of the first-leg match between the two teams, click on this link: https://rmadrid37.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/schalke-1-6-real-madrid-post-match-observations/
Now, the question comes up of whether Real Madrid can afford taking it easy in the second-leg or should they come out strong and not take any risks whatsoever. There are a few points to be made here:
A 6-1 Win Is Good Enough
As I mentioned earlier, Los Blancos were able to come out with a 6-1 win during the first leg and that is enough to make them guarantee a place in the Quarter-Finals. With that said, Real Madrid need to still come out with a strong enough team to win the game. One thing that we know about the fans is that they won’t be too happy with the idea of losing, even if the team won the first leg by a very large margin.
The Players Need Minutes
After a few months in charge, Carlo Ancelotti now has his ideal starting lineup and we have seen them destroy teams every week with some great performances. With that, we need to keep in mind that there are many players who need minutes and need time on the pitch to show Ancelotti and the fans what they are capable of while also having time to improve their skills and confidence.
This is the most important point to bring up when talking about the UEFA Champions League game against Schalke. On Sunday, Real Madrid will play against Barcelona and therefore they will not be able to afford having players who are either injured or tired. Carlo Ancelotti will want to make sure that he has his ideal starting lineup at full fitness in order to play against a Barcelona team who will be coming out very strong to keep themselves in the title race.
Carlo Ancelotti will need to make sure who can or can’t play in the midweek game against Schalke while keeping an eye on El Clasico next week. With that said, we also have to keep in mind that Real Madrid will also play another difficult game next week against Sevilla. No matter what happens against Barcelona, every game coming up will have to be dealt with as a final in order for Real Madrid to win the league. One slip-up can mean that the title race is no longer in our hands as we may have to depend on other teams to mess up such as Atletico Madrid or Barcelona.
My Expected Starting Lineup
My expected starting eleven against Schalke 04 tomorrow is:
Nacho, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Fabio Coentrao
Carlos Casemiro, Asier Illarramendi
Jese Rodriguez, Isco, Cristiano Ronaldo
Iker Casillas is probably the only guaranteed starter for tomorrow’s game while I’m expecting Ancelotti to try Nacho at right-back given that Alvaro Arbeloa is injured for the rest of the season. Also, I think that we can all agree that Cristiano Ronaldo will not want to be benched during this game and will want to play a part. I highly doubt that he will be completing the full 90 minutes though, depending on the score line.
Of course, Ancelotti may want to field a stronger team in the beginning then change things up a bit during the second half but we won’t know for sure until tomorrow. Either way, the main worry will be that the Clasico will be on all the players’ minds as they take the pitch against Schalke and I’m just hoping that they don’t get too complacent.