superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale during a training session, 25 February. Reuters
Real Madrid had an enjoyable weekend in La Liga, with Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both tripping up and allowing Carlo Ancelotti's side to take the sole lead at the top of the table.
With matters in the Spanish league going swimmingly well, Real will now turn their attention to the Champions League starting with the first leg last 16 trip to Schalke on Wednesday night.
"Things are going well for us at the moment and we are well positioned in all the competitions -- first in the domestic league, through to the final of the Copa del Rey and now through to the most important part of the Champions League," midfielder Xabi Alonso said. "We are on the up and don't want to stop.
"The idea is to keep improving and we want to achieve even more. We are solid, compact, we know how we want to play and how to approach each game. The feeling is very positive. We are aware that this can all change, but we don't want that to happen."
Schalke finished second behind Chelsea in the group stages, but have started to show some real form of late, and Real manager Carlo Ancelotti knows his side will have to be at their best over two legs to make it to the quarterfinals.
"I predict an intense match and I think Schalke will give everything in going for the win," the Italian said. "We know all about their qualities. They are very well-organised, especially at the back, and have a good balance between young talented players like Max Meyer and Julian Draxler, and players with a lot of experience like Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
"They do not play spectacular football but they are solid and consistent."
Schalke will go into the tie with nothing much to lose, knowing full well they are the underdogs, and manager Jens Keller has asked his team to be "brave" against the "second-best side in the world."
"After Bayern, Real Madrid are maybe the second-best team in the world at the moment," Keller said. "They have extraordinary players in every position so it won't be an easy game. But we are the home team and must be brave, we will not hide. To be successful, everybody will have to be at 100%. Only then might it be possible to pull off a little miracle.
"Real are on another level, financially, but as Dortmund proved by making it to the final last year, there is always a chance. Real Madrid have an incredible team but we're not bad either. We're in very good shape, as you can see from our recent results. But it is not just the results, but the manner in which we have achieved them."
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for an 8.45 pm CET (1.15 am IST Thursday morning) start with live coverage on Ten Sports in India. The match can also be watched through live streaming online in India HERE or HERE. Catch the action in the US HERE, while Australia viewers can live stream the match HERE. Viewers in the UK can catch the action on Sky Sports 4, with the live streaming option HERE.The game can be live streamed in the Middle East and North Africa HERE, while the rest of Africa viewers can use the link HERE. Viewers in Canada can catch the action live online HERE, while Latin America viewers can live stream the game HERE.
Team news: Schalke: Julian Draxler made a much-awaited return in the 0-0 draw against Mainz on Friday, while skipper Benedikt Howedes could also be available following a thigh complaint. Marco Hoger, Atsuto Uchida, Christian Clemens and Jan Kirchhoff are, however, sidelined.
Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo will be raring to go after missing the last few La Liga games through suspension, while Luka Modric also returns after missing the 3-0 win over Elche for a similar reason. Sami Khedira remains sidelined with a long-term injury.
Key men: Schalke: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will want to make an impression against his former side, while Draxler will look to be at his effective best.
Real Madrid: Ronaldo will be itching to put on those boots and have a crack at goal, while Gareth Bale showed exactly what he is capable of at the weekend with a spectacular long-range strike.
Expected lineups: Schalke: Fahrmann, Hoogland, Santana, Matip, Kolasinac; Boateng, Neustadter; Farfan, Draxler, Goretzka; Huntelaar.
Real Madrid: Casillas; Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Illarramendi, Alonso, Modric; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.
Prediction: 2-1 to Real Madrid
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