Real Madrid Continue To Slumber As Schalke Shake The Bernabeu
|Phil Kitromilides Twitter: @PhilKitro|
Tuesday night’s result at the Bernabeu was as disappointing as it was surprising.
Having earned a 2-0 first leg advantage three weeks ago at Schalke, Madrid had been expected to not only comfortably secure their passage to the last eight of the Champions League but also restore some confidence with a much needed fine performance.
The former almost did not happen, the latter certainly did not.
20 – The four Champions League games between Real Madrid and Schalke have produced 20 goals in total. Fun.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 10, 2015
Another poor showing from Carlo Ancelotti’s men saw them struggle defensively and fail to really connect upfront, and while they have made it through to the quarter finals, they will need to improve considerably to progress any further.
There was however one ray of light on a dark evening for the European champions, the return of Luka Modric after 114 days out injured. The Croatian admitted that he had been as emotional on making his comeback as he was when he debuted for Los Blancos and it was clear to see that the side had missed him.
Prior to the match Ancelotti had been asked about Modric’s qualities as a player and the coach underlined the midfielder’s ability to penetrate defenses with his passes. If Madrid’s movement of the ball has been lackluster in the last three games, Modric’s comeback will help address that problem with the 29-year-old adding vigor to Los Meregenues’ passing almost as soon as he came on.
The team has badly lacked that player further up the pitch from Toni Kroos, who links plays together and keeps the ball moving with speed and intelligence. Modric is that man, and his return will be key to Madrid regaining the swagger with which they swept all before them last year.
10 – Real Madrid faced 10 shots on target vs Schalke 04, more than in any other game this season (all comps). Nerves. pic.twitter.com/uJvVHvI5Yr
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 10, 2015
The headline on the front cover of Wednesday’s Marca was “What a fright” and Madrid were certainly run inconceivably close by a Schalke side regarded by many as one of the most negative teams in the upper echelons of the Bundesliga.
The Germans contributed their part to what was an exceptionally entertaining game for the neutral and one which ended Madrid’s four year unbeaten record in Europe at the Bernabeu.
There were whistles at full time, and plenty of them, but Ancelotti was practical in his response saying, “the crowd were kind to us tonight. The whistles can help wake us up”.
The Italian will be hoping that his side have fully arisen from their slumber for the forthcoming La Liga games against Levante and Barcelona.