Schalke Coach Jens Keller has rated Real Madrid as the second best team in the world, behind Bayern Munich.
Madrid travel to Schalke for the Champions League tie on Wednesday and Keller told his pre-match Press conference that there are few teams playing at a higher level than Los Blancos.
“Real Madrid are amongst the best teams in the world – after Bayern Munich of course, who are the best.” Keller said.
“They have exceptional players in every position. It’s not going to be easy but we’re playing at home and to match Real Madrid, all of our players need to give 100 per cent.
“That’s only way we can achieve a small miracle.”
Keller added that while he considers Madrid to be one of the best teams in the world, Schalke have not turned to the dark arts for a helping hand.
“Preparing for this match is vital but we take all of our preparations seriously, for every game,” he said.
“This is a particular game but during our preparations, we’ve been treating it as normal.
“We haven’t been performing black magic for this game in particular.”
Keller was present for Madrid’s 3-0 Copa del Rey win over Atletico Madrid earlier in February and was impressed by what he saw.
“I saw a very compact side who constantly looked dangerous on the attack,” he revealed.
“It was a local derby. A team like Madrid has very few faults and you have to look for them and exploit them.
“How we perform collectively will be the determining factor. We must play with spirit and courage. We will be punished if we leave them any spaces.”
Schalke could include in-demand Germany international Julian Draxler but when it was put to Keller that this game was a chance to advertise Draxler to interested parties, the Coach responded emphatically.
“We are not interested in putting any of our players in a shop window. The most important thing is that he’s fit and able to play.
“He’s been training for the past three days. We’ll make our decision after seeing how he is and how he feels. This isn’t about showcasing Draxler, it’s about fielding our best side.”
Keller is taking heart from both Germany’s success in the Champions League last season and the traditional struggle Madrid face when on German soil.
“Some teams have greater resources in terms of income like the English and Spanish clubs but last year, there were two German sides in the final,” Keller pointed out.
“We’re not such a bad side and we’ll be giving 100 per cent.
“As a coach you can refer to what has happened in previous visits but in the end it makes no difference.
Madrid are a great rival and we will be standing up to them with determination and hope.”