Real Madrid’s front three of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have struggled in recent weeks but the Schalke boss says they remain formidable
Roberto Di Matteo says Schalke have no chance of completely shutting down Real Madrid’s ‘BBC’ forward line but nonetheless believes that the German outfit can make things interesting by netting first in Tuesday’s Champions League clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Bundesliga side have arrived in the Spanish capital trailing 2-0 on aggregate after their last-16 first-leg clash in Gelsenkirchen three weeks ago.
However, Schalke will take heart from the fact that Madrid have failed to win in their last two Liga outings, drawing 1-1 at home to Villarreal before being beaten 1-0 in Bilbao at the weekend.
Madrid’s famed front three of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo are now coming under scrutiny but Di Matteo is refusing to read too much into reports of the BBC’s demise.
“Three weeks ago I was asked about the crisis at Madrid – but I don’t think there is a crisis,” the Schalke boss told reporters on Monday.
“Real Madrid are a very strong side and it’s very difficult to play at their level – we will try our best.
“We need to be well organised. I hope the media are right and their forwards are having a tough time – but it’s impossible to stop them altogether.
“Athletic are a good team at home and they didn’t allow Madrid to play in the style they are used to. Tomorrow will be different.
“But it would be a sensational experience for us to win. If we start scoring, it could get interesting.
“We will try to start the match with a strong line-up of players who are in good shape.”
However, Di Matteo also admitted that on Tuesday night he will be pitting his wits against one of the finest tacticians in the game today.
“Carlo Ancelotti is one of the best coaches in the world, very successful,” he added.
“I met him when I played for the Italian national team and he was the assistant coach.”
“He has worked for very prestigious clubs and won many trophies.”