- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

MADRID (AP) - Holding a 6-1 lead from the first leg, Real Madrid can finish off its one-sided Champions League series with Schalke on Tuesday.

Madrid’s attacking firepower was on display in the lopsided win in Gelsenkirchen, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema leading the way.

Benzema, however, is out for the return match in the Spanish capital.

Here are five things to know about the match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium:



Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema will not play against Schalke after limping off with a right leg problem in Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Malaga.

Benzema is enjoying one of his most productive campaigns at Madrid, with 21 goals in all competitions, but coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Monday he will not risk his first-choice striker with a crucial Spanish league match with Barcelona looming on Sunday.

Madrid’s big lead could also allow Ancelotti to rest defender Raphael Varane with Barcelona in mind.



Already Portugal’s all-time leading scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo can surpass Real Madrid great Ferenc Puskas next.

Ronaldo set the scoring mark for his national team last week, and now sits only two goals shy of matching Puskas’ 242 goals scored for Madrid in competitive games.

Ronaldo has netted 11 goals in the Champions League this season, leaving him three shy of matching the record 14 scored by Barcelona rival Lionel Messi in the current format of the competition.

Jose Altafini of AC Milan scored 14 in the 1962-63 European Cup campaign.



The generous advantage secured by Madrid means coach Carlo Ancelotti can rotate his squad, and that will give some fringe players an opportunity heading into the final stretch of the season.

Holding midfielder Asier Illarramendi could get a rare start, while the Italian coach confirmed on Monday that Alvaro Morata, Jese Rodriguez and Isco will accompany Ronaldo in attack, meaning Gareth Bale will be on the bench.

Defender Alvaro Arbeloa and midfielder Sami Khedira are sidelined by injury.

“I’ve trained a lot of quality teams so it’s hard to compare,” Ancelotti said when asked if his current squad was the best he had coached. “This team has experience, youth, quality, personality. It might be one of the most complete squads I’ve ever coached.”



Schalke is under no illusions about its chances of overturning the first-leg loss to reach the quarterfinals.

“We had a bad result in the first leg and we’re probably already eliminated,” midfielder Roman Neustadter said Monday through a translator. “Despite that, all the players are excited to play here. We’re going to try to play differently than the first leg.”

Schalke is treating the match as a learning experience.

“We have to be realistic. Real Madrid has an awesome team, and when you lose 6-1 in the first leg it’s not easy” to advance, Schalke coach Jens Keller said through a translator. “Fear is not a good word in football. So we’ll try to get the most out of it.”

Schalke hasn’t won in Spain since the 2005-06 season.



Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has returned from a knee injury and scored nine goals in 10 appearances this season, which is one more than he scored in 20 games while playing for Madrid five seasons ago.

Keller would not confirm if the Netherlands striker would play against his former club despite scoring the lone goal in the first leg with a showdown against second-place Borussia Dortmund coming up.

“Those with injuries or problems will not play,” Keller said. “But I don’t have so many options, I can’t do so many rotations.”

Schalke must finish in the top three to clinch a direct spot into next season’s Champions League.


Follow Paul Logothetis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PaulLogoAP

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