Real Madrid 3 Schalke 4: 'Dreadful, shameful and chaotic' - how Spain reacted to Real reaching the Champions League quarter-finals

The knives are out among the Spanish press despite the reigning European champions reaching the last-eight of the Champions League

The knives were out for Real Madrid in the Spanish press on Wednesday morning after the European champions came within a whisker of a shock elimination from the Champions League at the last-16 stage against Schalke.

Robert Di Matteo’s side, trailing 2-0 from the first leg, led 4-3 with seven minutes to go at an intense Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday night and were just one goal away from sending Carlo Ancelotti’s out-of-sorts side crashing out of the competition. Madrid did not play like a side capable of becoming the first to win back-to-back titles in the Champions League format but they form part of the last eight.

Led by former Madrid striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who scored twice, and talented young playmaker Max Meyer, who cut through Madrid’s wafer-thin midfield and defence like a knife through butter, the side from Gelsenkirchen were the better team on the night. Madrid had Iker Casillas to thank for two saves late on that helped edged the ten-times European Cup winners through to the quarter-finals by the skin of their teeth.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo was the only player to escape criticism for his performance. The former Manchester United man scored twice to become the leading scorer in the history of European competitions with 78 goals but that story was largely in the background on a night to forget for the Spanish giants. The goals were not enough to help his side to what would have been a record eleventh successive win in the competition. Nor were they enough to stop Madrid falling to a first home defeat in the Champions League since April 2011 when they went down 2-0 against Barcelona in the semi-finals.

“Dreadful! A chaotic Madrid spread terror at the Bernabeu,” read the front page of Marca. “Los Blancos were close to elimination despite a 2-0 advantage from the first leg. “The fans pointed the finger at Casillas and Bale and said goodbye to the team with huge jeers”.

The reaction of the fans to Madrid’s second defeat in the space of four days took centre stage. “The Bernabeu screams” said Marca. “The Madrid fans explode against the players and the coach with deafening whistles for an intolerable match”. The story was accompanied by a picture of worried Madrid fans waving white handkerchiefs, a sign of displeasure in Spain.

“To the quarter-finals with shame,” declared AS. “Schalke were a goal away from qualification.” The daily sports paper added that “Casillas made the team tolerate the fans’ whistles after the game.” The front page picture showed the Madrid goalkeeper, himself subject to whistles from an irate home support, dragging an angry Ronaldo to the centre circle to be with his team-mates after the match.

In Alfredo Relano’s column in AS, Madrid’s attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale were again brought into question, especially the misfiring Welshman. “The ending was a tense one and every time it seems the superstition of sticking with the BBC [Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo] is more incomprehensible, especially considering the poor form of Bale,” he said. Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti had repeated in his pre-match press conference that the starting roles of the trio were “not negotiable”.

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The scoreboard at the Santiago Bernabeu shows the full-time result

Barcelona-based paper Sport led with “An embarrassing Madrid. In a crisis and close to being knocked out.” It added that “the Bernabeu says enough is enough. The fans showed their indignation with whistles and shouts of ‘out, out!’”. The paper also made reference to the announcement of Ronaldo in the mixed zone after the match that he would not talk to the press until the end of the season.

El Pais said that “Madrid were close to a disaster” and sports journalist Diego Torres wrote about Casillas’s attempts to manage a tough situation at the Bernabeu. “Games like this can affect our heads”, said Madrid’s club captain after the match. The Spain international took advantage of his captain’s role to bring the players together on the pitch after the final whistle as the jeers flooded down from the majority of the 75,000 in the stands.

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Carlo Ancelotti looks on during the 4-3 defeat to Schalke

Torres also reported on the comments picked up from Ronaldo during the match in which he was heard to say “shame, shame” to Karim Benzema. “Cristiano gets angry with the whistles from the crowd. He says that he will not talk to the press until the end of the season”. The Portuguese star escaped criticism on the pitch thanks to his two-goal performance but he did not escape criticism after the final whistle.

The defeat came just days after Ancelotti’s men lost top spot in La Liga to Barcelona following their 1-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao. Madrid have now failed to win in three games after a 1-1 draw against Villarreal a fortnight ago cut their previous four-point lead at the top.

Ancelotti is suffering his toughest time since taking charge in the Spanish capital and Madrid face Barcelona in what could be a decisive El Clasico clash at the Camp Nou a week on Sunday. Madrid host Levante on Sunday night and the Italian coach and his players should prepare themselves  for a torrid time against the expectant Bernabeu crowd.

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