Schalke 04 coach Roberto Di Matteo understands his side is facing a difficult task trailing Real Madrid by two goals in their return leg of the Champions League Round of 16.
The German side will be buoyed by the fact that Madrid’s attacking trio of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo have been misfiring since the start of the New Year. However, Schalke will be aware they’re up against the defending European champions who will be looking to punch their ticket to the next round of the competition in front of their home supporters.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s match, Di Matteo paid respect to his opponent and stressed his team needs to start off on the right foot in order to reverse their 2-0 deficit from the first leg in Germany.
“It is going to be difficult for us but we are going to attempt it,” Di Matteo said during his pre-match press conference. “Real Madrid are a very strong side and it’s very difficult to play at their level – we will try our best.
“We need to be well organized. I hope the media are right and their forwards are having a tough time – it’s impossible to stop them altogether.
“We will try to start the match with a strong lineup of players who are in good shape.”
Schalke will be without Kevin-Prince Boateng, who is suspended, and are currently on a poor run of form – having dropped points in four of six matches (2 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses).
While Madrid are coming off a 1-1 draw with Villarreal and a 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao this weekend, manager Carlo Ancelotti has stated his team’s problems lay in attack – not in defense.
Although Di Matteo is aware of his opponent’s recent struggles, the Schalke coach doesn’t believe they will have a bearing on tonight’s match at the Bernabeu.
“Athletic [Bilbao] are a good team at home and they didn’t allow Madrid to play in their style they are used to,” Di Matteo concluded. “Tuesday night will be different.
“Three weeks ago I was asked about the crisis at Madrid – but I don’t think there is a crisis.
“It would be a sensational experience for us to win. If we start scoring, it could get interesting.”
Programming note: Real Madrid vs. Schalke 04 will be shown LIVE today starting at 3:45pm EST on FOX Sports 1 and FoxSoccer2Go.
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