Iker Casillas has insisted that Real Madrid cannot afford to take their Champions League last-16 tie against Schalke lightly.
Los Blancos battered the Germans 9-2 on aggregate in the same stage of the competition last season, but the goalkeeper believes the Royal Blues’ thirst for revenge makes them a tougher proposition this time out.
“It’ll be very difficult. The atmosphere in Germany will be very intense,” he was quoted as saying by Madrid’s official website
“They’re aware that they have an opportunity to take revenge, so we expect a tough match.
“The fact that we played them last year doesn’t benefit us. If anything, it gives them an advantage.
“It would be a mistake to think playing in Gelsenkirchen will be easy and that we’ll repeat what we did last year.
“On the contrary, we must be cautious and go there with humility. It will be a very tough tie.”
Casillas then admitted Madrid lost some ‘important’ players at the beginning of the season but found equally-impressive replacements in James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos, the latter of whom he singled out for praise.
“This season, some players, who were important to our style of play, left the club,” he continued.
“Others came in and have become key components, such as James [Rodriguez] and Toni Kroos.
“The statistics are there to prove [their importance]. Kroos feels very comfortable on the ball. He likes to move and pass quickly from right to left.
“He’s fast, young and has been playing at the highest level for a long time, so I think that Real Madrid were right to sign him, especially considering his age.
“He has already shown that he can be a key player for us in midfield.”