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Clasico on Madrid minds as Schalke hope to save face

Updated 17 Mar 2014 01:16:57

Clasico on Madrid minds as Schalke hope to save face

Real Madrid already have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after thrashing Schalke 6-1 in the first leg of their last 16 tie in Germany three weeks ago.

However, Los Blancos are looking to head into Sunday's potentially decisive La Liga clash with Barcelona on a positive note by extending their 30-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti is likely to rest a number of first-team regulars with the Barca match in mind with the likes of Isco, Asier Illarramendi and Jese Rodriguez likely to start.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored twice in the first leg to take his tally in the Champions League this season to 11 in just six appearances, is expected to be involved though as he targets Lionel Messi's record for Champions League goals in a season with the 14 he struck in the 2011/12 season.

French defender Raphael Varane should also start and after being plagued by a knee injury throughout the campaign, the 20-year-old believes he is now able to play two consecutive games at a high intensity.

"I always have to be careful with the knee, but it is fine and I can play two games in a row," he said after completing the 90 minutes in Real's 1-0 win over Malaga on Saturday.

"Now we have to first think about the game against Schalke and then about Barcelona."

Schalke were also victorious at the weekend as their 2-1 win over Augsburg on Friday night consolidated their position in the fight to qualify for next season's Champions League.

And whilst accepting a remarkable comeback is well beyond his side, captain Benedikt Hoewedes has said he wants the Royal Blues to sign off this season's European campaign with their heads held high at the Bernabeu.

"We want to make a sensible farewell from the Champions League," said the Germany international.

"Unfortunately, the good Champions League season we had played up until then paled into the background after the 6-1 defeat against Real, so it's even more important for us to leave behind a positive impression of both us and the club in the competition."

Former Real striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar grabbed his side's consolation goal with a spectacular volley in the first leg and he will once again be the major threat to his old club having notched six goals in his last four games.

Peruvian winger Jefferson Farfan is likely to be missing for the Germans, however, as he missed the trip to Augsburg with a knee injury and is set to sit out the return leg.


AFP

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