Real Madrid vs. Schalke: 6 Things We Learned

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

Real Madrid vs. Schalke: 6 Things We Learned

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    It might have been a glorified friendly, but Real Madrid’s 3-1 win over Schalke 04 in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday night was quite fun.

    Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and one from Alvaro Morata helped Carlo Ancelotti's side wrap up an impressive 9-2 aggregate win over the German side, moving them into this week’s quarter-final draw—as if there were any doubt.

    Jens Keller’s sidewhose travelling fans were superbreplied through Tim Hoogland.

    Los Blancos had some bad news though, as one of their future stars suffered a serious-looking injury after just two minutes.

    Here are the talking points from the Bernabeu.

Jese’s Devastating Injury Blow

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    The only bad thing that could come from Real Madrid’s Champions League tie with Schalke on Tuesday night—barring an unlikely German comebackwas an injury. 

    Especially a nasty one.

    Unfortunately, young forward Jese Rodriguez picked one up that might sideline him for the rest of the season, if not a lot longer. The pain on his face when he went down inside the first five minutes said it all:

    Jesé... #AnimoJesé pic.twitter.com/5zcQSUnL2Z

    — SocialRMadrid (@SocialRMadrid) March 18, 2014

    Spanish newspaper Marca has suggested the 21-year-old suffered ligament damage to his knee.

    If that is the case, he will be shelved for six to eight months.

Morata’s Struggle for His Goal

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    While Jese was enduring a nightmare night for completely different reasons, another Real Madrid academy graduate was having a tough time for other reasons.

    Alvaro Morata— with Madrid’s five-goal cushion in mind and an injury to Karim Benzema—was handed the chance to impress at the Bernabeu as the central striker in Carlos Ancelotti's 4-3-3 formation.

    And despite rousing the home fans at times with some decent performances earlier this season, his confidence looked shot in front of goal in the first half.

    Gareth Bale rolled the ball across to him in the first half, but he misread the pass and fluffed the chance wide. 

    Isco then weaved a good opening for him, but his stubbed finish was easily saved.

    The 21-year-old did eventually get his goal, though. After whiffing on another good chance in the second period, Bale handed him a chance that he couldn't miss after Cristiano Ronaldo had whacked the bar.

    Statistics on WhoScored.com revealed a mixed night for the striker, as he ended the match with five shots on goal—three of which managed to penetrate the target.

Schalke Were Much Improved from First Leg

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    They couldn’t have been much worse, could they?

    Schalke were humiliated in the first leg in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, but they still traveled to the Bernabeu with the hope of getting a good result.

    And for large parts of the first period, it looked like they might get one too.

    Tim Hoogland equalised after Cristiano Ronaldo had opened the scoring, before the Germans then threatened to take the lead with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Julian Draxler causing Madrid problems.

    However, they completely fell apart in the final 20 minutes as the home side flooded forward.

    Jens Keller’s side will have to seek solace from the first 45 minutes and hope to carry that form to a second-place position in the Bundesliga, which would signal a return to Champions League football.

Isco’s New Midfield Role

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Last week Carlo Ancelotti said that Isco will "be able to do what Clarence Seedorf did" at AC Milan for the Italian coach, meaning that he believes the former Malaga player can develop into a deeper midfielder, per Goal.com.

    He raised the point again in the buildup to Tuesday’s match against Schalke, per ESPN.com: "[Isco] has to get used to this position, which is a bit different, above all with defensive aspects. But both he and I are confident that he can play in that position."

    That transition has now begun.

    WhoScored’s stats revealed that Isco led Real Madrid in terms of passes made in the win, and although statistics aren’t everything, the Los Blancos' boss should be pleased.

    It wasn’t the best time for him to work on the defensive aspect of his game, though; however, he will take confidence from 90 minutes in the middle of the park.

A Spanish Madrid

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Is this the future that Florentino Perez is envisaging?

    Last summer, Gareth Bale aside, the Real Madrid president instigated a transfer policy that saw Spanish youngsters Asier Illarramendi, Isco and Dani Carvajal arrive.

    In Tuesday night’s match against Schalke, Ancelotti fielded a side that included eight Spanish players in the starting lineup—something Los Blancos hadn’t achieved since 2002.

    It's been more than 11 years since Real Madrid last fielded 8+ Spanish players in a Champions League starting XI (vs. Genk, on 12.11.2002)

    — MisterChip (English) (@MisterChiping) March 18, 2014

    And it looks like there may be more Spaniards to arrive.

    AS have reported that Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno has already told his teammates he will join Madrid this summer (h/t Football Espana).

Ronaldo Hounding Down Record

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    Paul White/Associated Press

    Real Madrid played, and Cristiano Ronaldo scored.

    The former hardly comes without the latter—barring suspensions or injuries to the Portuguese forward.

    He opened the scoring against Schalke, notching his 12th goal of this season’s Champions League in the process, thanks to good work on the left from Gareth Bale.

    His 13th arrived in the second half when he stormed forward and finished expertly from the edge of the box. Both the bar and the post then denied him another hat-trick.

    The record for goals in a single Champions League campaign is 14, which was set by Lionel Messi. It is tempting to imagine Madrid’s No. 7 has his eye on that feat.

    Other Ronaldo facets to emerge from the game included him becoming the first player to score 40-plus goals in four different seasons in Real Madrid's 112 years of history, while he also became the second player in history to score in seven consecutive Champions League games after Ruud van Nistelrooy (nine games).