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Real Madrid Vs Schalke 04, UEFA Champions League 2013-2014: Match Preview

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The Champions League is back at the Bernabéu! Fortunately, and thanks to a brilliant 1-6 win over Schalke 04 in Germany, Real Madrid secured its place in the Quarterfinals. Time to give some rest to some of the key players.

Denis Doyle

After destroying Schalke 1-6 at Veltins-Arena, Real Madrid earned its place in the next round of the Champions League. Yes, it's over and nothing will change that. That doesn't mean the game is an absolute waste of time.

With El Clásico just a few days away, it's expected that Carlo Ancelotti will rotate a lot of players. Last week's game against Málaga was a tough contest for Real Madrid. Karim Benzema couldn't finish the game after a very unfortunate play with Cristiano Ronaldo. Because of that (and mostly common sense), Carletto has already confirmed that he will protect his most important players and give them some well-deserved rest so they can be ready for the match against Barcelona.

We might see some of the usual starters but it would be surprising the see them play the entire game. The Italian coach might give Raphael Varane some playing time so the French defender can regain some rhythm. Cristiano Ronaldo, currently the Champions League top scorer (11), will start against Schalke, as confirmed by Ancelotti in his pre-match press conference. This might be risky but it's hardly a surprise. He needs those minutes so he can extend his advantage over Zlatan Ibrahimovic (10) and Lionel Messi (8) as the tournament's top scorer.

Along Cristiano, Real Madrid's coach said that Isco, Jesé and Álvaro Morata will start too. Both Jesé and Isco will love the chance to show themselves after their poor performance against Málaga. Morata is a kid who always tries hard when he gets a chance. Others, like Nacho, Asier Illarramendi and Casemiro will definitely get meaningful playing time too to prove their worth.

It will be interesting to see how Ancelotti deals with the RB position. We might see Nacho playing right there, along with Fábio Coentrao, Pepe/Ramos and Varane. It's a good time for Ancelotti to experiment in case Dani Carvajal needs some rest at some point or gets injured (knock on wood).

Schalke 04 knows this is worse than Mission Impossible, but they will try to face the game like it was 0-0. They are a weak team on defence, so Real Madrid's young attackers will be able to generate a number of meaningful chances. That's not saying that the German team will allow six more goals but this will hardly end without any goals scored by the home squad.

Even with the ticket to the next round already in hand, watching some of the younger players will be fun and playing at the Bernabéu, they will definitely aim to impress the crowd and their coach.

Prediction: 2-1 Expect a great performance by Isco and another solid defensive game by Real Madrid's players. Schalke will create a few chances so they might score at some point but with Iker on goal, another clean sheet shouldn't surprise anyone.