5 problems Real Madrid are facing ahead of Champions League's clash at Schalke

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Champions League's round of 16 is around the corner, yet holding champions Real Madrid are still far below their best version.

Real Madrid are sitting top in La Liga table, but it is apparent that they are not of the same level with themselves a few months ago, when people even discussed whether Ancelotti's side were the best team in Real Madrid's history or not.

Injuries, physical and psychological problems with some important players, wrong tactics, lack of freshness. have all been destroying a monstrous side that used to terrorise teams for months.

If Madrid's top goal this season is to become the first team in Champions League's history to retain the trophy, immediate improvement is required in many aspects of their game. Below is five biggest problems Real Madrid are still facing ahead of the clash with Schalke tomorrow night, according to

1. Ball movement is slow

When Real Madrid were flying high, they moved the ball at incredible speed, making opponents chasing all over the pitch. Now the movement is slow, and as a result, Madrid's attacks become too predictable.

Luka Modric's long-term absence, Toni Kroos' depletion and James Rodriguez's injury are being drawn out as main reasons. Ancelotti should hope that the addition of Lucas Silva in the winter transfer would bring some positive effects to the team.

2. Lack of freshness and imagination

When everything were going their way, Real Madrid played like a team on... PlayStation. They made unexpected pass, dribbled at ease, and did many other out-of-the-script things they could imagine.

When the body is tired, however, the imagination goes down, too. Real Madrid's games are apparently lacking sparks. Some individual attempts from Benzema or Isco surely are not enough.

3. Ronaldo is missing

Ronaldo is not OK. Since his returning from the FIFA Ballon d'Or ceremony, things has gone from bad to worse for him. The Portuguese superstar has only scored three goals in eight games he played from the start of 2015, and has now failed to score in three consecutive La Liga matches for the first time since February 2011.

Real Madrid has showed that they can still win match without Ronaldo's goals, as they did against Deportivo la Coruna last weekend. But if Madrid are to compete for every trophy at hands, they need the 30-year-old star to get back to his best as soon as possible.

4. Toni Kroos' depletion

The World champion has made himself one of the most reliable players since his transfer from Bayern Munich last summer. So important Kroos is to the operation of the team that Ancelotti has hardly rotated him since he first played for Madrid in Cardiff.

With only a few days of training in his legs before his debut, Kroos just didn't have the proper preparation he needed for a long season. Things got worse with the injury of Luka Modric.

Madrid is now paying the price for Kroos' lack of rest. When the engine is not operating at its most, of course the whole machine suffers.

5. BBC or not BBC?

Real Madrid won the Champions League last year thanks to the ultimate power of the fearsome attacking trio combining Benzema, Bale and Cristiano (BBC) in the 4-3-3 formation. This season, however, things changed.

It's no secret that Madrid has played the best minutes of the season with four midfielders, when Bale was absent due to either injury or suspension. Without the Welsh, Isco formed with Kroos, Modric and James a dream midfield, which brings both result and joy.

The question is: While Benzema is so important tactically, will Ancelotti dare to omit any of the two most expensive players in the world?

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Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid
Toni Kroos
UEFA Champions League
Gareth Bale

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