Match Recap: Champions League – Real Madrid v Schalke

20 Mar

Schalke fans at BernabeuI don’t know about the rest of you, but after the match against Bilbao I was pretty sure we’d worked out the cobwebs and would easily move into the next round in Champions League. Not that Schalke are ever easy but surely we couldn’t blow an advantage of two away goals…

Right?

Who am I kidding? At this point you all know what happened. If not for anything but because you’ve all seen the fall out. So let’s jump into this and look at some pretty, and maybe I can make you laugh a little. I’m going to do this a little different.

So, as I said before we had beat Schalke away 2-0 and were hoping to hold onto that lead in order to advance into the next round.

Lineups:

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Pepe, Raphael Varane, Fabio Coentrao; Sami Khedira, Isco, Toni Kroos; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Madrid startersSchalke: Timon Wellenreuther; Benedikt Howedes, Joel Matip, Matija Nastasic; Marco Hoger, Roman Neustadter, Christian Fuchs, Tranquillo Barnetta; Max Meyer, Eric Choupo-Moting, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Schalke starters

Our biggest news was that Luka was on the bench FINALLY after being out from that thigh injury. It was nice to have him as an option again. I missed Luka terribly. Even Cris was happy to have him back!

I don’t have any goodies from the tunnel, but I do have a couple of gifs to add some pretty to what I hope doesn’t turn into an angry gypsy rant post.

I love the little girl. She thinks he’s just going to start running and gets so confused when Gareth does his Cristiano impression. Bless.

I also love this. It’s a bit of a creepy smile from Cris but he was playing with his mascots ears. He’s always so good to the mascots. So arrogant…

The match kicked off and I was sitting up straight on the couch. Is that important? Yes. It will come into play later. So remember, I was sitting up straight on the couch.

We were a bit hesitant at first, but so were Schalke. Until Choupo-Moting had a sniff at goal and then it seemed we were slightly on the back foot. My beautiful Baby Varane (as FABOD says, I’m smitten) conceded possession in a dangerous area, which is very unlike him. I had to admit that he hasn’t been the player we had all grown accustomed to.

They really were loud. I feel that every team has better fans than we do. I never hear our fans chanting. Just watching and waiting. Or whistling. *sigh*

We had a couple of half chances in the 6th and 8th minutes but they were cleared fairly easily by the Schalke defense.

The last time I took shots of vodka during a Real Madrid match was the Champions League final. If it worked for us during that match, it surely could work for us during this one. We looked lethargic. What I did like, however, was that it Benzema was closing the ball down. That was refreshing. It just would have been better if he wasn’t the only one doing it.

It was the 20th minute when Huntelaar cut in and passed the ball to Fuchs, who shot from close range and beat Iker. Okay… One goal. Surely it would kick our butts, right?

Schalke continued to threaten and Varane got in the way. Then, because we are so good on counters Kroos crossed the ball in and Cristiano bailed us out in the 25th minute. His header was fabulous!

A lot of people thought his celebration was angry. I thought he was trying to get the crowd and his teammates going. He’s passionate. That is one of the things we love about Cristiano Ronaldo, is it not? Passion isn’t just about being happy.

Schalke was forded to make a substitution in the 29th minute when Choupo-Moting went down with an injury. It was Sane that replaced him.

In the 31st minute, Cris was given a yellow card for a challenge on Hoger. Okay, any Game of Thrones fans out there? Does anyone else see “Hoger” and think “Hodor”? No? Just me? Okay…

Hodor

Even though we got our goal, we still seemed to be lacking something. Then, I decided I needed a Varane goal. I even tweeted that I could do with a Varane goal. Shortly after I said something, he made a blind back pass that nearly got us in trouble.

Luckily, as Huntelaar tried to put it past Iker (who had to come very far out for the pass), it only trickled toward goal and Pepe was across to clear it away from the net. My biggest problem was that we were leaving Huntelaar with too much space. He hit the crossbar with a shot from outside the box in the 41st minute to give me a bloody heart attack.

And just a few moments later, Huntelaar put it past Iker after fumbling a shot from Meyer. I had just gotten done telling a friend that I would curl into a ball and die if Huntelaar scored against us.

In the 45th minute, Sami curled a shot to the top corner but Wellenreuther was across to make the save. Boo!

But then we got our equalizer!

Coentrao crossed in an excellent ball and Cristiano was there once again to get that gelled coif to it! 2-2 and game on!

With two minutes of added time, that was it for the first half. Remember I had told you I was sitting straight up on the couch at the beginning of the match? Well, by this point I was laying on the floor.

Second Half:

I gathered myself at the half and went back to sitting on the couch.

So, neither side made any changes (can we say repeating myself post after post?) but there was this:

Schalke were again on the front foot at the start. There must have been no table flipping from Cristiano, because our urgency still wasn’t there.

Despite my worry, our lack of urgency, and Schalke’s bright start it was Benze Benze Benzema that struck first! He received the ball in the box in the 52nd minute and dribbled across the goal before slotting it past the keeper. To be honest, all I was thinking was “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” But it worked out so I concede to that.

Okay! Maybe we salvaged this!

In the 55th minute, Coentrao earned a yellow card for going in late on Barnetta. Then we conceded again in the 57th minute. To be fair, it was a great strike by Sane. The kid is barely old enough to drive in the US and we let him bother us for the entire match.

Response by both sides was to make changes in the 59th minute. Schalke used their second substitution to see Goretzka in for Hoger (HODOR!). Ancelotti brought us the return of Lucky Luka for Sami and Marcelo for Coentrao.

We began shooting and looking a bit better in the final third but there still seemed to be something missing in our midfield. Some sort of disconnect. And our defense… *sigh*

We had chances from Ronaldo, Kroos, Bale, and even Arbeloa as the clock wore on.

But Schalke were still having too many good chances. I had gone from sitting up straight on the couch to slouching horribly and nearly on the floor again.

Fuchs had a fabulous chance for Schalke in the 81st minute but it was directly at Iker. He’d stepped up since I’d gotten a little frustrated earlier and he was the Iker we all love. San Iker.

In the same minute, both teams made their final subs. For Schalke Barnetta was replaced by Uchida and we got Stalker(!) for Arbeloa. Stalker(!) is what Mandi and I call Nacho after we discovered a series of photos I took in Philadelphia a couple of years ago had him looking directly at us.

In the 84th minute, Isco almost gave us another goal but the ball curled just too much and wide of the post.

Then Huntelaar lost his marker and put the ball into the net.

It was a good finish by our former player.

Iker was across to make a great save on a Sane shot in the 87th minute. The young player was tearing us apart. And shortly after the wonderful save, Iker was challenged in the air and won a free kick.

Iker saved our asses in the final minutes of the match with a number of shots coming in. Four minutes were added with Iker still using all of his forcefield powers to deny Schalke the 5th goal that they not only needed but, honestly, deserved.

At full time, it was Real Madrid 3-4 Schalke. We move on to the next round but, based on this one game, I’m not entirely sure we deserved to.

Match Photos:

Post-Match Comments:

Ancelotti post matchAncelotti:

“We all know that we played badly, the whistles were deserved and are there to wake us up”, he added. 

Carlo Ancelotti spoke to the media and analysed the game against Schalke, which saw the Whites qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals: “I’m very sorry. As everyone saw, we played very badly, it isn’t good for our image and that of our club. I’m very sorry. The whistles were totally deserved. This is going to motivate us for the games to come. I still have complete faith in this team and in the squad. I know what it’s capable of producing. Right now it isn’t.”

“We have to work harder and focus more. We all know that we played badly. We have no problem saying so. It’s the truth. We want to do better. Nobody likes moments and games like these. I’ve spoken to the players.”

Half-time team talk
“We tried to sort out the defensive side of things, which is where things most went wrong. No team had scored four goals against us at home. Only Barcelona I think, with two penalties. We weren’t well organised.” 

Confidence
“It’s normal, we lacked confidence. We’ve also suffered a bit of a dip physically. We had problems in every department of the play: attack, defence, desire, fighting spirit, focus… It was pretty clear.”

His future
“I’m not thinking about being sacked. I’m continuing to do my job. I’m trying to better, I need to do better. As I’ve said, it’s the responsibility of the coach to put out a team that can play better than we have tonight.”

Did you think you were going to go out?
“No, we suffered until the end, until the last minute. The game didn’t turn out as we wanted. As I’ve said, I have complete faith in all the players. The key to solving this problem is the players themselves, and the coach too.”

Modric
“The presence of Modric gives us more control of the ball and more effective possession. We shouldn’t ask a lot of him because he has been out for three months. We have to be careful. He did well, he was confident and comfortable. He’s going to help us, as will Ramos, with his personality and character.”

The players
“I don’t think they’ve lost faith in the coach. Everything can be said right now. We have to be clear, we’re playing very badly. It’s quite incomprehensible after everything that we did until December. We’re in this period of form and we have to do something more to change it.”

The reason for the problems
“It isn’t easy to explain. We’ve lost a bit of confidence in our play and identity. We’re finding it too difficult to play as we want to.”

Did the team embarrass itself?
“No, we’re professionals and we don’t embarrass ourselves. We play badly, we get it wrong and we make mistakes. We try to give our all for this shirt, which is an honour to wear. But we don’t embarrass ourselves. We work with dedication and we’re professional.”

Visit to the Camp Nou
“In football, things change quickly. Until December we won 22 games, now we’re in a very difficult period that nobody could have imagined. In football everything changes very quickly. The fans showed affection tonight, because the whistles are there to wake us up.”

Casillas post matchCasillas:

Iker Casillas analysed Real Madrid’s match against Schalke, and the Whites’ qualification for the next stage of the Champions League: “What’s most important is that our trophy defence continues. In the draw, Real Madrid’s name being in the pot is what’ll make us forget these ten days, which have been dramatic for us. We have to change as soon as possible.” 

“It’s good to try to take away positives and we’re aware of that. The team has again failed to reach the level of recent months, but what’s important is that we realise that. Today wasn’t my best game. We have to think about the collective and we’re going through a difficult time. But, although we fell short of what was required, we did enough to get through.”

Rapport with the crowd
“We were made to sweat too much. What we have to do is be more united than ever. We have to understand the Madrid fans, and today we weren’t up to the standards of Real Madrid and the Champions League last 16. The Bernabéu want to see their team win. We understand the concerns among the crowd, their whistles and the disapproval they showed at certain moments. The sooner we can achieve that rapport with the fans, the better for us. That’ll mean we can start winning games not only physically but also mentally.”

Nacho:

“The squad has to show its strength”
“We’re in the quarter-finals; not the way we wanted. It was a difficult evening. We didn’t play the way we wanted, but we got through, which is what’s important. It was a difficult game and Schalke are a good team. If they scored one more goal, we knew that we were out.”

Hard work to improve
“We haven’t reached our peak level of performance for a few weeks, and we don’t know the reason. We’re working day in, day out to be the team of 2014, when we managed to win everything. We need to be calm and people have to have complete confidence in us; we’re the same players, and with the level we have we’re going to get through it.”

Togetherness
“What’s most important is that the team sticks together. These are the moments that the squad has to show its strength. We have to look at what we did wrong tonight and in previous games. The Camp Nou will be very difficult, but first we have Levante, which is an opportunity to take another step in the right direction.”

Modric post matchModric:

The midfielder played for the first time in 114 days.

Luka Modric made his way back onto the Bernabéu pitch again after spending 114 days sidelined with injury. The Real Madrid man expressed his happiness following his return: “The injury has been extremely tough for me, but thanks to God I have recovered, I’m really happy and am on my way back. I felt really emotional coming on tonight, just like I was the first time I played here. I want to thank everyone for the support I received during my injury”.

“Qualifying to the next stage is really important. We didn’t play well but you have to suffer from time to time and hopefully we will grow stronger from this. It can’t be up to one player to turn things around, we need to play like a team. When we do that and fight for each other we are an extremely good team and are very dangerous. Hopefully we will get back to playing the way we were at the start of the season. We have the quality and the same players. I believe we are going to see the best version of Real Madrid once again in the upcoming matches”.

Return and ovation
Luka Modric returned against Schalke after overcoming the injury he sustained in a game with his national side against Italy on 16 November 2014. The central midfielder received a huge applause from the Real Madrid fans when he came on for Khedira in the 58th minute.

Para siempre…

¡Hala Madrid!

-mygypsyspirit

(images and gifs courtesy of GF Sports, the-vip-football-collection, football-hqs, and realmadrid.com)

3 Responses to “Match Recap: Champions League – Real Madrid v Schalke”

  1. Mandy March 20, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

    Okay, I’m sorry but I am going to attack Gareth for a bit because it’s something that drives me nuts. Go back through the Match Posts and look at the squad pre-match photos. What do you notice? Go ahead… I’ll wait.

    I hope you saw what I have been noticing for a while now; I don’t even know how far back it goes. Gareth NEVER EVER touches, or puts his arm around a fellow player for the squad photo. He is ALWAYS the ONLY ONE in the photo who has this body language. It annoys me something fierce.

    • mygypsyspirit March 20, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

      Interesting. I wonder if it’s something to do with not being a touchy person. English speakers tend to be very much less touchy. Not any excuse by any means. Just thinking out loud…

      • Mandy March 20, 2015 at 8:22 pm #

        That is a good point. Maybe I’ll have to analyze some EPL squad photos from his days at Tottenham. I still think he’s being a jerk about it. He’s way more superstitious and ritualistic that he let’s on in interviews when people ask him about these things. He always says “not really”. Maybe this is part of his superstition… NO TOUCHING!

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