Real Madrid almost choked away a Champions League tie that they were expected to walk through on Tuesday. They beat Schalke, 2-0, away and answered Die Königsblauen's early goals, but struggled to hold on to a 4-3 loss late, which was just good enough for a 5-4 aggregate victory.
The Spanish media is being predictably brutal to Madrid, but not as brutal as the team is being to themselves. Iker Casillas said the team has 'hit rock bottom' even though they progressed, while Cristiano Ronaldo apparently won't speak to the media for the rest of the season.
It appears that their struggles were almost entirely down to a lack of effort. Madrid apparently ran 9.4 kilometers fewer than Schalke, and it's not like they were in control of the match, not needing to run because they were passing circles around their opponents. As AS notes, Luka Modric matched Schalke's level of effort, but even he got crossed up by a teenager.
Madrid's season clearly isn't in shambles yet -- they're into the quarterfinals and a Clasico win would send them top of the La Liga table -- but it looks like they're working on falling apart.
In the news
Vincent Kompany reportedly got in a fight with Fernandinho, and teammates thought they'd start trading blows. (Mirror)
Montreal Impact winger Justin Mapp will be out four months with a dislocated and fractured elbow. (Montreal Impact)
Schalke have exercised the transfer clause in Matija Nastasic's loan deal, and he'll be moving to the club from Manchester City permanently. (Schalke)
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss around four weeks with a hamstring injury. (Sky Sports)
The police officer in charge of Hillsborough is talking to the new inquests, and he's making the South Yorkshire police sound even more ridiculously incompetent by the second. (Guardian)
Robbie Keane says he's negotiating a new deal with the LA Galaxy (RTE via MLSSoccer.com)
Falcao played for the Man United Under-21s yesterday and it sounds like he couldn't be bothered to try. (@WindyCOYS)
Francesco Totti has a thigh injury and might miss out on Thursday's game against Fiorentina. (Football Italia)
As a reminder, if you live in the UK, tweeting racist garbage can get you arrested. (BBC)
You should be reading
Alex Netherton on PSG failing in their bid to become another Chelsea. (Soccer Gods)
John Ashdown and Jacob Steinberg on celebrating goals with animals. (Guardian)
Rafa Honigstein on how Bayern Munich changed Arjen Robben. (ESPN FC)
Fun with transfer rumors
The section in which nothing should be taken seriously.
Barcelona seem to think that they can beat Real Madrid to Danilo even though he couldn't play for them in the first half of next season. (ESPN)
West Ham want Aaron Cresswell to sign a new contract so he doesn't go to Manchester City. (Mirror)
Dynamo Kiev take on Everton in Europa League, and Arsenal are having scouts watch Aleksandar Dragovic. Not sure why they didn't just buy him from Basel. (Metro)
As you read above, Real Madrid got embarrassed by Schalke, but still went through. (SB Nation)
Porto ran over Basel to make the quarterfinals as well. (SB Nation)
You can find Copa Libertadores highlights here. (FootballManiaChannel)
What to watch on Wednesday (click for listings, all times ET)
France vs. USA (12 p.m.) - The U.S. women are in the Algarve Cup final against a team that recently beat the crap out of them.
Chelsea vs. PSG (3:45 p.m.) - Hopefully this goes down to the wire like last year's quarterfinal.
Bayern Munich vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (3:45 p.m.) - This probably won't be close, but hey, Bayern don't have an away goal!
Boca Juniors vs. Zamora (7 p.m.) - Boca look like potential Copa Lib winners, and should win this game.
San Jose vs. Tigres UANL (9:15 p.m.) - The more accessible of the late games. Tigres will probably get crushed in Bolivia, though they do have experience playing at somewhat high altitudes.
Barcelona vs. Atletico Nacional (9:15 p.m.) - A must-win for Barcelona and a must not lose for Atletico Nacional.