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Real Madrid take on Schalke in Germany


GELSENKIRCHEN: Real Madrid are targeting a rare win in Germany when they take on Schalke 04 in Wednesday’s Champions League last 16, first-leg clash, the Spanish giants’ Gareth Bale says. Having scored 20 goals in the group stages, Madrid are looking to improve on their dreadful away record in Germany as they take on Schalke for the first time. The Spanish league leaders are unbeaten in 26 games in all competitions, dating back to last October, and are clear favourites against the Royal Blues of Gelsenkirchen, who are fourth in the Bundesliga. But Madrid have prevailed just once in 24 previous away matches against German opposition, losing 17 times, including a 4-1 drubbing at Borussia Dortmund in last season’s semi-final first leg when Robert Lewandowski hit all four goals. That said, Schalke’s form this season has been erratic and they have won only five of their last 11 home encounters against Spanish opponents, suffering four defeats.
Madrid will be able to call on the firepower of Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, who returns from a three-game ban. The injury doubts are left-backs Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao as neither played in the 3-0 win against Elche on Saturday, so Alvaro Arbeloa could deputise if neither are fit. Schalke were denied a fifth straight league win when they were held to a goalless draw at home to Mainz on Friday. There was good news, though, for Schalke as Arsenal-target Julian Draxler came off the bench to make his return after two months out with a foot injury. Leverkusen were beaten 3-1 at home in the last 16, then thrashed 7-1 in Barcelona, but not before Bayer players Michal Kadlec and Manuel Friedrich had argued over who would swap shirts with Barcelona star Lionel Messi. 

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