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Real Madrid return to Germany looking for Champions League triumph

Modified 17 Feb 2015, 20:51 IST

Real Madrid

Real Madrid start the knockout stage of the Champions League with a return trip to face German outfit Schalke 04 here Wednesday night.

Last season saw Real Madrid come back from the first leg of their last 16 tie in the Veltins-Arena with a 6-1 away win which virtually assured their progress into the quarter-finals, reports Xinhua.

While a repeat performance is unlikely this time, Real Madrid are still clear favourites to go through against a rival that has several players missing through injury.

Real Madrid have injury issues of their own and it looks as if central defender Pepe will force his recovery from a rib injury in order to try and give some extra experience in central defence.

Ancelotti either takes a chance on the Portuguese international or continues to confide in the relatively inexperienced duo of Rafael Varene and Nacho Fernandez.

Marcelo is also available after appearing to have twisted his ankle during Saturday's 2-0 win over Deportivo la Coruna, but Fabio Coentrao, Luka Modric and Sami Khedira are definitely out.

Without Modric and Khedira in midfield, Ancelotti will either hand a debut start to recent signing Lucas Silva or continue with Asier Illaramendi in the centre of the pitch.

Real Madrid also have a problem in attack where Cristiano Ronaldo has been well off the pace for around a month.

The striker looks to be suffering as a result of the end of his relationship with model Irina Shayk and has cut a frustrated figure on the pitch in recent matches. Meanwhile, he also seems to be struggling with a physical problem of some kind, probably a return of the knee injury which troubled him a year ago and which has limited his mobility.

He has scored just three goals in 2015, but he and strike partners Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema will hope for space on the break on what will be a cold night.

Published 17 Feb 2015, 20:48 IST
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