Cologne - It is a case of mission (almost) impossible for FC Schalke 04 as they head to the home of UEFA Champions League holders Real Madrid CF on Tuesday night in the last-16 second leg (kick-off 20:45 CET / 19:45 GMT).

The Royal Blues are under no illusions that a 2-0 defeat at the Veltins Arena in the first leg has left them with more than the proverbial mountain to climb against a side who could equal a record of 12 consecutive home wins in the competition with victory at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. sets the stage for Schalke's next trip on the continent...

The winner reaches the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, but there is more to it than just that. Schalke would need to do something historic to overturn the 2-0 deficit, but a draw or even a win, which still may not be enough to go through, would be crucial to earning the Bundesliga more points in UEFA's five-year rankings.

Luka Modric (r.), who has been out since 16 November due to a thigh injury, returns to the bench for the Merengues, who could well field a slightly weakened team in view of El Clásico against FC Barcelona on 22 March. James Rodríguez and Sergio Ramos are unavailable.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Marco Höger are both fit and available, as is (l.), while Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Max Meyer should also feature. Schalke's only fit absentee is the suspended .

No stranger to the Bundesliga, Toni Kroos has developed into a key figure in Madrid. He may make fewer headlines than the 'BBC' front three of [Gareth] Bale, [Karim] Benzema and Cristiano [Ronaldo], but the Germany international determines the team's entire tempo from midfield and, more importantly, supplies the forward line.

had found himself on the fringes for the past month, but his return to the starting XI at the weekend promptly saw Schalke's attacking play transform. "I hope to be able to play again on Tuesday at Real Madrid," said the 19-year-old, who deserves his chance to strut his stuff on the biggest of stages.

Carlos Ancelotti (Real coach, r.): "Benzema, Bale and Cristiano will remain in the starting line-up and in the same positions. I trust them. They have scored less in recent games because the team is not helping the forwards. Modric will start the match on the bench and I will give him 30 minutes in the second half."

Meyer (l.): "It will be very difficult. We wasted the chance to put ourselves into a good position in the home leg, but we still want to give a good account of ourselves. If they slaughter us, then we obviously lose more than just the game. But that's not what we're all about. We're going there to make a good impression on Tuesday."

Schalke got back to winning ways at the weekend with their first three points in a month, which included that defeat to Real as well as reverses to Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Dortmund. Real lost top spot in the Primera Division at the weekend after going down 1-0 at Athletic Club, enabling Barcelona to move a point ahead.

This is already the second season in a row that these two sides meet at this stage of the Champions League and Schalke can at least take heart from being in a better position now than they were 12 months ago, when they lost the home leg 6-1. They went on to lose 3-1 in Spain.

Possible line-ups:

Real: Casillas - Carvajal, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo - Lucas Silva, Kroos, Isco - Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo

Schalke: Wellenreuther - Höwedes, Matip, Nastasić; Uchida, Fuchs - Neustädter, Barnetta, Meyer - Choupo-Moting, Huntelaar