Ancelotti: Bale wil return to starting line up for Schalke test
Madrid boss Carlo to start with under-fire Bale in tonight's Champions League clash with Schalke
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti says under-fire Gareth Bale will remain in the starting line-up against Schalke tonight.
The Welsh winger has been criticised by a section of Real's fans and the local media for a dip in form, having set up just one goal and failed to score in Real's last eight matches.
But Ancelotti has no qualms about starting him in the Bernabeu clash with Schalke, which Real Madrid go into with a two-goal cushion having won the first leg 2-0 away from home.
"If I had to replace those who were not playing at their best, I would have to change the whole squad," the Italian said yesterday.
"The whole team needs to improve. I'm sure Bale is not happy with what he is doing and he understands that and wants to do better."
Ancelotti is confident his side can rediscover their best form, despite a disappointing draw with Villarreal and a defeat to Athletic Club in their last two games.
A shortage of goals has been Real's biggest problem, with Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo also struggling.
"I have complete confidence in them (Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo)," he said. "They have given us so much in the past and our identity is not going to change.
"There has been a general drop in form, not just of the three of them, but of the whole team.
"Right now the team is not helping our strikers much.
"We are not playing fast, we are passing the ball too much and we need to try to find the right pass to make the most of our strikers' potential."
Even so, there is now not much room for error if the Spanish giants are going to win titles in Europe or on the domestic front.
After the Schalke game, Real will host Levante this weekend before travelling to the Nou Camp to face Barcelona on March 22.
"No team can make any mistakes from now on because otherwise you compromise the campaign," he said. "There is more pressure now at this stage of the campaign.
"In the Champions League, we want to do the best we can because this is the best competition in the world.
"We did well against German opposition last season and we hope to do the same this year."
Real hammered Schalke 9-2 on aggregate at the same stage and then beat Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich en route to lifting a record 10th European cup last season.
The Spanish giants have won all of their Champions League games so far and will be bolstered by the return of midfield pair Luka Modric and Sami Khedira from injury.
Real are without injured defender Sergio Ramos.
Schalke are fifth in the Bundesliga and travel to the Spanish capital without any undue optimism.
"We've got to be realistic, and for us to go through will be very difficult," admitted midfielder Max Meyer on bundesliga.com.
"We wasted the chance to put ourselves into a good position in the home leg, but we still want to give a good impression of ourselves in Madrid and get the best result possible," he added.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Marco Hoger and Benedikt Howedes, who all missed Schalke's 3-1 win over Hoffenheim at the weekend, have made the trip but Kevin-Prince Boateng is unavailable through suspension.