Breaking Down Real Madrid's Champions League Opponents Schalke

Samuel Marsden@@samuelmarsdenFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05:  Kevin-Prince Boateng and Jens Keller of FC Schalke talks to the media during a press conference on November 5, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

When all the fluff that fills a Champions League draw eventually died down and the balls were at last pulled from the pot, Real Madrid were paired with German side Schalke.

It was perhaps a preferable draw to Arsenal or Manchester City, but certainly not one which Carlo Ancelotti's men should take lightly.

Jens Keller's side are currently sixth in the Bundesliga, but they have an abundance of players with the ability to cause Los Blancos plenty of problemsparticularly in the first leg when they will be at home.

The common link between the two clubs is Raul.

Madrid's legendary No. 7 moved to the German club from the Spanish capital in 2010, spending two seasons there and helping them to the semifinal of the European Cup in 2011.

That first meeting between the two sides will take place on February 26, with the return fixture scheduled for the Bernabeu on March 18.

How they got to the last 16

Schalke edged through their Champions League group in second place behind Chelsea.

It took a 2-0 win at home to Basel in the final fixture to secure their qualificationanything other than the three points would have seen them drop into the Europa League.

They'd previously come through a qualifying round against PAOK Thessaloniki to ensure their participation in this season's competition.

Galatasaray knocked them out in the last 16 stage last season.

League form

Keller's side may be outside the top four in the Bundesliga at the moment. However, signs of improvement have been evident of late.

Having lost three of their first six league games, they've since only lost two out of 10one of which was to rivals Borussia Dortmund.

They're five points adrift from Borussia Monchengladbach (fourth) and Dortmund (third) heading towards the new year.

Danger men

Draxler
DraxlerLars Baron/Getty Images

Former Madrid forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is traditionally Schalke's main threat, but he is currently sidelined and told Dutch daily De Volksrant (h/t Sky Sports) he may not return to training until February.

There are plenty of other exciting players in the squad waiting to pose Madrid problems though.

Julian Draxler is undoubtedly the highest rated. The 20-year-old German international, who's already scored three goals in the Champions League this season, is thought to be on the radar of most of Europe's top clubs.

Elsewhere, Jefferson Farfan is an experienced, talented player, Kevin-Prince Boateng arrived from AC Milan in the summer and Cameroonian Joel Matip is developing into a solid defender.

Also keep an eye out for Max Meyer.

Just 18, he's scored three goals in seven Bundesliga starts this season and is tipped as the next exciting attacking midfielder to emerge from Germany.

Stadium

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 06:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea takes a free kick during the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Schalke 04 and Chelsea at the Veltins Arena on November 6, 2007 in Gelsenkirchen,Germany.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Ge
Michael Steele/Getty Images

Real Madrid will make the trip to Schalke's Veltins-Arena at the end of February.

It's in the German city of Gelsenkirchen, was opened in 2001 and has a capacity just shy of 62,000, if you take it to include standing areas.

The 2004 Champions League final was played there, while it was also a venue for several matches at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Will it prove a nice trip for Real Madrid?

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