Real Madrid have torn Schalke to pieces in their own back yard, with all three of their attackers scoring twice. The 6-1 first leg was surely doubly sweet given Real's woeful record on German soil.
One omen was positive for underdogs Schalke in their futile mission for a Champions League"miracle"
against Real Madrid. Historically, Madrid had lost 18 of 25 matches, winning just the one, on German soil in the Champions League and the European Cup before that. However, looking at more recent form, Madrid entered Wednesday's match on a run of 26 games without defeat in all competitions.
Schalke, too, boasted a run of eight matches without defeat and could draft key players Julian Draxler and Benedikt Höwedes back into the starting 11 after injuries.
Playing to raucous home support, Schalke captain Höwedes had the first chance of the night, heading wide of the target from a first-minute corner. The Royal Blues were strong in the opening phase of the game, only for Real to score with their very first shot against keeper Ralf Fährmann.
Wingers Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, the world's most expensive player and the current world player of the year respectively, combined to play in Karim Benzema for the first goal. Ronaldo's flicked pass went through Felipe Santana's legs, and Benzema was on hand in the box to finish.
Only a few seconds later, Julian Draxler was denied an equalizer at close range by Madrid keeper Iker Casillas.
With 21 minutes on the clock, Bale dribbled past Roman Neustädter and Santana with comparative ease to add a second. The two-goal deficit noticably took the wind out of Schalke's sails, yet the hosts managed to hang on at 2-0 until half time. Ronaldo threatened in particular before the break, smashing a low shot past Fährmann and onto the post.
Ronaldo gets in on the act
Ronaldo made amends seven minutes into the second half, blasting past Joel Matip and finding the far corner with his left foot. Five minutes later, the Portugese star turned provider again, setting up Benzema for his second of the night.
Welsh international Bale scored his second after 79 minutes, and Ronaldo scored the softest of the bunch against a clearly demoralized Schalke defense after 89 minutes.
In stoppage time, Schalke's fans - who continued singing despite their worst European defeat since 1970 - were given a consolation goal.
It was arguably the best of the night. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar exhibited exceptional technique to volley home a Christian Fuchs cross on his stronger right foot. Real's goalie Iker Casillas, who had not conceded in more than 900 minutes of football, had no chance of stopping Huntelaar's shot from canoning in off the crossbar.
Only the most optimistic of Schalke fans will hold out any hope for the return leg in the Bernabeu, where a 6-0 win is the minimum requirement for the Royal Blues to make the quarter finals.
There's no respite at home either: Schalke face Bayern Munich, away, in the Bundesliga this weekend.
In Wednesday evening's other Champions League game, hosts Galatasaray drew 1-1 with Chelsea. Aurelian Chedjou canceled out a first-half goal for Chelsea through Fernando Torres in the second period of play. None of the English sides managed to win their first leg match but Chelsea did at least become the first Premiership team to score a goal in the round of 16.