clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Schalke 04 vs Real Madrid, Champions League Round of 16: Match review

Real took another step back into form and onto the next round with a 0-2 win in Germany.

Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images

Real Madrid beat Schalke 04 0-2 in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie.

All eyes were on two youngsters for each side: midfielder Lucas Silva for Real, and keeper Timon Wellenreuther for Schalke.

The newly-acquired Silva made his first start for Real Madrid in an electric Veltins Arena, playing alongside Toni Kroos and Isco. Pepe also returned to the lineup in central defense, whose stability in defense was sorely missed.

Real started the game by using long, slashing crosses, often aimed at Gareth Bale. Schalke did well to prevent the new-look Real midfield from breaking through early, and neither side created any real chances in the first part of the match. It wasn't until the 25th minute that any action happened.

Ex-Real Madrid player Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had a go from outside the box, but Iker Casillas turned away his ambitious attempt. Real responded by flipping the field, and Carvajal found himself facing Dennis Aogo near Schalke's box. Carvajal paused before picking out a cross to a cutting Cristiano Ronaldo, who headed the ball on and into the net.

Ronaldo's deft goal ended a 299-minute goal "drought" but the confidence which followed suit was more valuable. Ronaldo made no-look passes, impressive dribbles, and looked rejuvenated to have found the net again.

Not long after Ronaldo's goal, Huntelaar was subbed off with a knock for Felix Platte, and not long after that, Kevin-Prince Boateng picked up a yellow card which will keep him out of the return leg.

It was just Timon Wellenreuther's third appearance with Schalke's first team, but he stopped two great shots to close out the half. Toni Kroos' pass put Benzema in a one-on-one with Wellenreuther, and Benzema tried to power it through the keeper's legs, but Wellenreuther got enough on it to slow down and recover the ball before it went in. Five minutes later, Ronaldo (finally!) put in a challenging free kick from range which seemed destined to fly into the top corner, but Wellenreuther got hands to it.

The better part of the second half was forgettable, as the ball spent most of its time bouncing around the midfield. But again, 25 minutes in, the game opened up. A defensive lapse from Marcelo teed up a ball for Platte at the top of Real's box, but Platte rattled a powerful shot off the crossbar. It reignited Schalke's rapacious crowd, but it wouldn't last.

Five minutes later, Ronaldo shed three defenders on the left flank and passed to Marcelo who was cutting inside. Marcelo blasted a goal into the upper right corner, very much like Isco's goal last weekend against Deportivo. Marcelo's insurance goal allowed Real to drop back and hold onto their lead for the final 12 minutes.

In all it was a solid yet oddly uncomfortable win for Real.

Isco shone, as he's been doing all season with a team-high seven dribbles, often with more than a little flair. Toni Kroos was fantastic as well, pushing the ball forward well as well as helping in defense. Isco and Kroos each completed 93 percent of their passes.

Real's central defense looked considerably better than it has lately. Rapha Varane led the team in tackles, interceptions, and clearances, while Pepe made some really good passes out of the back end.

The BBC was streaky, sometimes moving freely and with pace, and other times they'd take a touch too many or too heavy. Gareth Bale's defensive contribution shouldn't go unmentioned, and Ronaldo played one of his better matches of 2015.

And lastly, Lucas Silva looked solid. Most of his passes went forward and to Gareth Bale, and he helped out in defense in key moments. For being thrust into a very hostile environment, Silva met expectations.

It wasn't quite last year's 1-6 battering, but Real Madrid will head back to the Bernabéu with two valuable away goals in hand.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Managing Madrid Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Real Madrid news from Managing Madrid