The knockout stage of the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League continues on Wednesday, following a mixed bag of results during Tuesday’s action.
Bundesliga side Schalke host the reigning Champions League winners and Spanish giants Real Madrid, while Swiss side Basel welcomes perennial Portuguese powerhouse Porto to St. Jakob-Park.
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While Real Madrid have lost just once in eight games across all competitions, it’s been anything but smooth sailing for Carlo Ancelotti’s men. In particular, Cristiano Ronaldo has struggled since returning from a two-game suspension last month, failing to score in his first two games back. His 34 goals in all competitions (five in UCL play) is still a staggering tally, considering he’s played just 26 games this season.
Real easily advanced from the group stage, topping Group B with a perfect six wins out of six and 18 points.
Schalke, meanwhile, needed every last point to escape Group G as runners-up to Chelsea. It’s been anything but a delightful season for Roberto Di Matteo’s side, which currently sits fourth in the Bundesliga. With just two losses in their last 10 games across all competitions, this is easily the best stretch of results Schalke have enjoyed this season.
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Basel aren’t your typical “smaller” Champions League side. For starters, they don’t take the “safe” approach against bigger sides and strictly sit back defensively. Expect them to take chances, get numbers forward and regularly try to be the game’s aggressors. There’s quality players up and down this team that would star for a lot of top Europa League and lower-half Champions League sides. Basel finished second in Group B, ahead of Liverpool.
Porto ran roughshod over Group H, scoring an impressive 16 goals in six games while conceded just four times. Jackson Martinez is the star man everyone knows, but Yacine Brahimi and Vincent Aboubakar also offer plenty of quality going forward. Porto (14 points) won Group H comfortably, five points ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk.