Gelsenkirchen - As a living Real Madrid CF legend and a hero to the FC Schalke 04 masses, there is arguably no one better placed to talk Wednesday’s mouthwatering UEFA Champions League last-16 first leg clash of the aforementioned European titans than the great Raul Gonzalez Blanco.

The unmistakable Spanish striker spent 16 years at the Bernabeu, before enjoying an unforgettable two-year spell in the Bundesliga en route to his current posting in the Qatar Sports League with Al-Sadd SC.

Here’s what the 36-year-old had to say in an interview with club magazine Schalke Kreisel ahead of the big game…

Question: Raul Gonzalez, how did you react to the draw?

Raul: The first thing that crossed my mind was: I want to be playing!

Question: For which team?

Raul: That’s easy - Schalke at the [Veltins] Arena and Real at the Benabeu (laughs). I must admit, it’d be really tough to walk out for one of the two sides in such a big game. That’s why I’m just happy to be able to watch and enjoy it as a fan.

Question: Tell us, who will you be supporting?

Raul: Even if I wanted to, I can’t! I grew up at Real Madrid, spent most of my career there and enjoyed huge success. It was fantastic. In contrast, I was at Schalke for a much shorter, albeit jam-packed, spell. Before I moved to Schalke, I never dreamed that I would become so attached to the club in such a short amount of time. Now I just enjoy being in a position to appreciate both teams.

Question: What will Schalke have to do to come through it?

Raul: I think Schalke will have to play out of their skins. All the players will have to be at 120 per cent and play to their full potential. Of course, they’ll also need a bit of luck. It’ll be really hard for them to go to the Bernabeu with nothing to show from the first leg.

Question: Who in particular should S04 watch out for?

Raul: It’s nothing new, but I think Cristiano Ronaldo is the standout player right now. He’s at the peak of his powers and scored in almost every game. His performances and consistency speak for themselves. Xabi Alonso is also massively important to the team. He’s the string-puller, a kind of conductor. There are also other big personalities like Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos.

Question: Will you be going to the home game at the Veltins?

Raul: That’d be great and I wish I could, but I’ve got a game in the Asian Champions League for Al-Sadd on the same day. Luckily, I’ll be able to follow the game on TV because the kick-off times don’t clash. I’ve never been so happy about the different time zones (laughs).