herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Carlo Ancelotti: Real victory in Schalke gets our season back on track

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gives thumb-up after winning 2-0 during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between FC Schalke 04 and Real Madrid
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gives thumb-up after winning 2-0 during the Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match between FC Schalke 04 and Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s 2-0 Champions League success at Schalke 04 last night was the perfect tonic for the holders after a difficult start to the year, according to coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo ended a brief goal drought with Real’s opening goal in the last 16, first leg in Gelsenkirchen and Brazil fullback Marcelo cracked in a second to put the La Liga giants within touching distance of the quarter-finals.

The  victory helped dispel doubts about their form after they were knocked out of the King’s Cup and thrashed 4-0 in La Liga by neighbours Atletico Madrid in recent weeks.

“We needed a game like that, with that kind of attitude and performance,” Ancelotti said. “And everything worked out well in the end,” added the Italian, who led Real to a record-extending 10th European crown in his first season in charge in 2013-14.

“The team were serious and efficient and the opposition were pegged back from the start. Once we got the first goal, we controlled the game.”

Real’s next outing is a La Liga match at struggling Elche on Sunday, when Ronaldo will have a chance to show he really does have his scoring touch back.

The FIFA Ballon d’Or winner had drawn a blank in three consecutive matches and had come under fire for throwing a birthday party hours after the La Liga reverse at Atletico.

“It’s normal that when Cristiano goes for weeks without scoring people speculate that something’s wrong,” team-mate Pepe said. “I just focus on the work he does for the team.”