Real Madrid drew universal admiration from the Spanish and German media after their historic 6-1 Champions League win in Gelsenkirchen, although kicker summed up the consensus on their victims, Schalke, when saying they appeared “like a rabbit before a snake.”
Madrid are all but certain of a quarterfinal place after two goals apiece from Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo gave them a commanding lead to take into the second leg at the Bernabeu, despite Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s stunning consolation in injury time.
Prior to Wednesday night, the nine-time European champions had won only one of their 25 games away to German opposition, and Bayern Munich -- their most regular vanquishers, with nine wins and one draw against Los Blancos in Bavaria -- have developed the nickname “the black beast” in Spain.
After Madrid so emphatically broke the perceived “curse” at the Schalke Arena, Sueddeutsche Zeitung headlined its coverage: “The ‘white beast’ shows Schalke up.”
The German broadsheet added: “With brutal force, Real Madrid ran rings around Schalke. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and their colleagues looked weightless during their 6-1 win, although the most beautiful goal of the night was scored by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.”
The defeat, following on from Bayer Leverkusen’s 4-0 thrashing at home to Paris Saint-Germain last week, has prompted a reassessment of Bundesliga standards.
Kicker referred to its own “historic four” headline in mid-December when all of the German sides qualified for the knockout rounds as it wrote on Thursday's front cover: “The historic debacle.”
The German football weekly gave all Schalke players except Jefferson Farfan derisory ratings and former Royal Blues midfielder Andreas Moeller wrote in his column for the magazine that Los Blancos were “several classes above” their opponents and look like “serious contenders for the Champions League.”
Bild, meanwhile, headlined its cover: “Ronaldo laughs at Schalke.”
The best-selling tabloid added: “Schalke, that was a disgrace! Following Leverkusen’s 4-0 defeat against Paris we thought it can’t get worse. Big mistake! Schalke suffered the Royal defeat. This 1-6 was shameful. The heaviest ever European defeat in Schalke history.”
However, there was recognition of the visitors’ “world-class” attack, with the writer suggesting their performance had surpassed the highest rating available for player grades.
The Ruhr-based RevierSport headlined its coverage “a Royal dismantling!” In one of the several articles on the defeat within its pages, it questioned why Real Madrid would have any interest in signing Julian Draxler, who this week spoke positively about La Liga.
“He should have scored the equaliser after 14 minutes, but was denied by Casillas,” the football weekly said. “It was his backpass to Santana that led to it being 2-0. Draxler had no arguments as to why Real should even possibly think about signing him.”
Spain’s media, meanwhile, was unsurprisingly hyperbolic, with the Madrid-based Marca newspaper using its cover to make a pun on the “BBC” nickname given to Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo by writing: “Barbaric. Bestial. Colossal.”
Fellow Madrid paper AS, which on Wednesday had expressed concern over the team’s poor record in Germany, returned to the theme but with a more triumphant tone, headlining its cover: “The German Conquest.”
Juanma Trueba’s match report in AS also praised coach Carlo Ancelotti for how he had calmly moved on from the turbulent Jose Mourinho era while quietly and astutely improving the team’s play.
“Ancelotti has known how to adapt to what he had, with the style of Vicente del Bosque, and has made decisive contributions that have been confused with natural evolutions,” Trueba wrote. “The success of a coach, like a good film, is to get the dialogue to flow without it seeming forced.”
The contribution of Iker Casillas -- whose point-blank save at 1-0 really ended any Schalke hopes -- was lauded by Marca as “another miracle” from the goalkeeper, who remains back-up to Diego Lopez in La Liga.
El Pais' match summary added: “Ancelotti's team, who were tremendous, used cannons to frighten off all the historic ghosts and destroyed Schalke with a goalscoring demonstration from Benzema, Bale and Cristiano.”