Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 will be hoping Real Madrid CF’s German jinx strikes again in the first leg of their last-16 UEFA Champions League tie on Wednesday (kick-off 19:45 GMT/ 20:45 CET).

Los Galaticos opened up a three-point lead at the top of La Liga at the weekend, but travel to the Veltins Arena having won just once in 25 trips to Europe’s second most populous nation.

'Good omen'

“You know that games in Germany tend to be a real nightmare for Real Madrid,” explained former Los Blancos striker and Schalke marksman . “It's a good omen, but we will have to see what happens. This is football we’re talking about, after all.”

While the Spanish giants boast a dreadful record on German soil, Jens Keller's men will nevertheless be fully aware of the importance attached to delivering a positive result in front of their own fans, having themselves not won a single one of their last seven excursions to Spain.

'Always a threat'

For Huntelaar, though, stealing a first-leg march on the much-fancied visitors is every bit within the Royal Blues’ reach and the Dutchman knows exactly how to make it happen: “I think our biggest threat is our attacking play. We know how to score goals and are always a threat going forward.”

Schalke have proved that beyond any doubt of late, returning to the top-four equation on the back of four wins and one draw since the winter break. The fact only reigning Bundesliga and Champions League winners FC Bayern München have fared better this calendar year suggests Schalke have reason to be optimistic.

'A great team'

Die Knappen’s ability to fulfil their winning remit, however, is not without the odd caveat. “The team have to perform; not just me, Kevin-Prince Boateng or Felipe Santana,” admitted Huntelaar. “I always want to show what I can do in every game and the team are no different. It’s a massive Champions League game and one we’re all looking forward to. It’s important we have a good day.”

Head coach Keller confirmed as much at his customary pre-match press conference on Tuesday. “Real Madrid are one of the best sides in the world, possibly only one behind FC Bayern,” he warned. “We’ll have to be compact at the back, but also to find gaps up front. Real have a great team, but so do we. It’s about the collective. We have to be brave.”

Possible line-ups

Schalke: Fährmann - Höwedes, Matip, Felipe Santana, Kolasinac - K.-P. Boateng, Neustädter - Farfan, M. Meyer, Goretzka (Draxler) - Huntelaar

Real Madrid: Casillas - Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao - Modric, Xabi Alonso, di Maria - Bale, Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Christopher Mayer-Lodge