BERLIN - Surprise semi-finalists Schalke
04 will look to talismanic striker Raul to carve out a first-leg advantage
when they put their 100 percent home record on the line against
Manchester United on Tuesday.
The former Spain forward and Champions League all-time top
goalscorer has been at the heart of Schalke's run to the last
four. After leaving Real Madrid last year after 16 trophy-rich
seasons, Raul has scored five times for Schalke in the
competition while the Bundesliga side have won five out of five
United know all too well of Raul's qualities as a
matchwinner, his two goals for Real at Old Trafford in 2000
knocked the current Premier League side out of the competition.
Schalke's demolition job on holders Inter Milan in the last
eight will also have left United in no doubt that the German
outfit are no soft option, a view that should be reinforced by
their poor record against Bundesliga sides.
Although their most famous victory came over Bayern Munich
in the 1999 final, United have lost all four of the two legged
knockout ties they have played against German sides since the
start of the Champions League in 1992.
"The German teams have always had a resilience and
determination about them and that will be exactly the same on
Tuesday," said Sir Alex Ferguson, whose side lost to Bayern in last
"But we're going into this game with far more experience
than in previous years and our experience away from home, and
our record, in the last few years has been terrific."
Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick rested several players in their
1-0 home defeat to Kaiserslautern on Saturday.
"We will have a different starting team against United,"
said Rangnick, who took over from sacked Felix Magath a month
ago. "If I had chosen the same team on Tuesday that I did today
I don't think we would have a big chance to win against
Peruvian Jefferson Farfan, who missed the quarter-final
second leg against Inter, will be back in midfield while
defenders Benedikt Howedes, Atsuto Uchida and Hans Sarpei
should also return.
Midfielder Jose Jurado, who came on as a substitute on
Saturday, is also expected to start in Schalke's maiden
Champions League semi-final appearance.
Schalke, despite being 10th in the Bundesliga, still have
two titles to fight for this season with the Champions League
and their German Cup final against second division Duisburg in
For Schalke's 25-year-old captain and goalkeeper Manuel
Neuer, who is set to leave in the summer after a staggering 20
years at the Ruhr valley club, there could not be a more
"Manchester may have won their last league game but it was
not all victories before that. So we know very well that we have
a chance against them on Tuesday."
United beat Everton 1-0 on Saturday to close in on the
Premier League title.
Defender Nemanja Vidic and midfielder Michael Carrick are
set to return after being rested.
Although he knows the value of an away goal at this stage,
Ferguson would probably be delighted to come back with a 0-0
draw given the incredible form his side have shown at Old
Trafford this season.
Saturday's victory made it 16 wins and a draw from their 17
home league games while they are also unbeaten at home in the
Champions League and domestic cups.
Schalke 04: Manuel Neuer; Atsuto Uchida, Christoph Metzelder, Benedikt Howedes, Hans Sarpei; Alexander Baumjohann, Jefferson Farfan, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Jose Jurado; Edu, Raul.
Manchester United: Edwin van der Sar; Rafael da Silva, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra; Antonio
Valencia, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Park Ji-sung, Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney.
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