Jones: Nothing better than Madrid
Schalke 04 are excited about the prospect of facing off against Real Madrid, with U.S. international Jermaine Jones claiming ‘there is nothing better.’
Was gibt es Geileres?? Real Madrid!!— Jermaine Jones (@Jermainejunior) December 16, 2013
The midfielder was one of many Schalke players and officials to voice his delight at the Real Madrid draw in the round of the last 16.
“That’s a great draw for us, and also for our fans,” Schalke’s under-pressure coach Jens Keller said. “To compete against the most famous club in the world with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Iker Casillas or Gareth Bale. We are really looking forward to it.”
Schalke youngster Julian Draxler -- despite heavy interest from Premier League sides -- will likely lead the charge against Real.
“This draw is a real Champions League highlight,” Draxler, who in the summer was also linked with a switch to Real, said. “It was always a dream of mine to play against Real and at the Bernabeu. It could not have been more difficult. But we accept the challenge. I am looking forward to those games.”
Captain Benedikt Hoewedes also warned Real that it was too early to write Schalke off, saying on the official website: “Even if Real are favourites to go through, I believe we have an outside chance.”
Madrid’s director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueno admitted to being relatively happy with the draw, but recalled that his club have always had problems against German sides in the competition.
The club have only one win in 21 visits to Germany in the Champions League -- and were also eliminated by German sides in the last two seasons at the semifinal stage of the competition [Bayern Munich in 2011/12 and Borussia Dortmund last year].
The former Madrid forward -- who himself suffered disappointment against Bayern in the 1980s -- told Canal Plus that Ronaldo, Bale and company would need to be fully focused to avoid further ‘suffering’ on German soil.
“It is true that in theory there were stronger opponents but that is theory,” Butragueno said. “We have always suffered against German opponents, they are always very competitive, and we have had some problems there in the past. One bad night in the Champions League and you are out. We will have to prepare really well and look after all the details.
“Having the second leg at home is in theory an advantage, but we will need to be very careful. I hope we arrive in good form, with all our players healthy. Our team is getting better as the weeks pass, we hope to go far in the competition.”