Real Madrid signaled their Champions League intentions by dismantling a hapless Schalke side 6-1 at the Veltins Arena. Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale helped themselves to a brace and all but secured safe passage to the last-eight.
All the pre-match talk had been dominated by Real Madrid’s awful record in Germany. The nine-time European Champions have won just once on their travels in Germany – that was 13 years ago – but last night they seemed to mock at the hoodoo. Los Blancos were irresistible as they sliced Schalke at will, scoring a glut of goals and also sending out a clear warning to the rest of Europe: Real Madrid mean business!
Prior to the kickoff, Carlo Ancelotti’s biggest selection headaches would’ve been to accommodate Angel Di Maria, Luka Modric, Xabi Alonso and Isco in a three man midfield – the Spaniard eventually making way – and whether to play Jese – who’s been impressive in the La Liga – up front or go with Gareth Bale. The home side almost took an early lead but Benedikt Howdes’ went wide of Iker Cassilas’ right hand post.
Gareth Bale has had his critics in his first season at the Santiago Bernabeau but on the night he was imperious, making his mark as early as the thirteenth minute when his pass eventually made his way to Karim Benzema and the Frenchman did the rest. The former Lyon man is another player who has benefited from Ancelotti’s trust, improving drastically after a poor start to the season. The Royal Blues almost equalized immediately as Jeferson Farfan rampaged down the right and found Julian Draxler but his shot was brilliantly saved by Casillas.
And that was pretty much all she wrote as for the rest of the game was a blur for the German side.
Real’s second came about as Benzema disposed Felipe Santana off the bale and fed Bale whose marionette like footwork hypnotized the Schalke rearguard before the Welshman fired home a precise shot. Two away goals and Real were coasting but any thoughts of them releasing the pressure was quickly rubbished as Ronaldo smashed one of the post and spurned another chance when put one on one with Schalke keeper Ralf Fahrmann. But the home side refused to learn and the Portuguese is charitable for only that long as after the work he yanked Joel Matip this way and that before lashing home a fierce left footed shot into the far corner.
The home fans must’ve been gutted by the score line but somewhere deep down they would’ve been in awe of Los Blancos’ attacking might and soon enough the fourth arrived. Once again it was Ronaldo in the thick of it as he exchanged passes with Benzema before setting up the French international for his second. Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema have been nicknamed BBC – a knockoff of Liverpool’s SAS – but the trio were simply unplayable as Bale duly took over the scoring reins as he latched onto to a precise Sergio Ramos through ball to make it 5 on the night.
The home fans would eventually see one of theirs ironically score the goal of the night as former Madrid man Klass-Jan Huntelaar volleyed in a magnificent shot from outside the area but by then Ronaldo had already gotten his second. Having endured so much pain in Germany in season’s past, Ancelotti’s men put things right in quite the emphatic fashion with the tremors being felt on all corners of the European continent. No one will want to face this Real team in this kind of rampaging form, especially when the allure of a 10th European title is galvanizing them further.