Schalke have 'less to lose'

Ferguson's Man Utd are expected to beat Schalke in their Champions League semi. But could this make doing so difficult?

    If anyone can prevent Ferguson from reaching the Champions League final, Raúl Gonzalez can [GALLO/GETTY]

    Schalke manager Ralf Rangnick has piled more pressure on Manchester United ahead of their Champions League semifinal meeting on Tuesday by saying the onus in on United.

    By reaching the semifinal stage and defeating holders Inter Milan, Schalke have already exceeded expectations and can go into the match brimming with confidence.     

    Two weeks ago an unheralded Schalke side comfortably deposed of Inter Milan 7-3 on aggregate. Rangnik will hope their underdog tag will help them cause another upset against two times Champions United.

    "Of the two teams, we have much less to lose,'" Ralf Rangnick said on Monday.

    "We may be less experienced, but we are hungry and we have a lot of passion.''

    Not so easy 

    Both Schalke and United have had impressive Champions League campaigns so far. Schalke have won all their home games in the competition, while United have not conceded a goal in their away fixtures.

    Rangnick expects a tough challenge against an experienced Manchester United side. 

    "We won't score so many goals this time,'' Rangnick said.

    "United is a very organised team. I expect a close game and a result that may give us a chance in the second leg.''

    Manchester United's challenge has been made harder after the news that Dimitar Berbatov will miss the game with a groin injury. The Bulgarian has not travelled to Germany for Tuesday's match at Veltins-Arena after sitting out Saturday's 1-0 victory over Everton.

    Despite being the Premier League's top scorer with 21 goals, Berbatov has had to work hard to keep his place in the team. Mexican Javier Hernandez, who provided a crucial late goal against Everton, is in blistering form and often preferred as a partner to Wayne Rooney by Sir Alex Ferguson. 

    Rely on Raul    

    To get the better of Ferguson, Schalke would be advised to look to talisman Raul to carve out a first-leg advantage.

    Raul - who has played in 140 Champions League games - is the only player to have appeared in more European fixtures than Manchester United’s Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

    The former Spain striker 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.

    United know all too well of Raul's qualities as a matchwinner, his two goals for Real at Old Trafford in 2000
    knocking the English side out of the competition.

    Raul is itching to cross swords with the Premier League leaders.

    "We dream of beating United. Let's see if we're the better team,'' Raul told British newspaper The Guardian.

    "No one can believe this. A final would be even more incredible. I hope it's Madrid."

    In order to reach the final on May 28 at Wembley, Manchester United might want to forget their previous results against German clubs in the competition.

    United have not beaten a Bundesliga side in a two-legged encounter since the European Cup was revamped into the Champions League in 1992.

    Bayern Munich put paid to their hopes at the quarterfinal stage last year and 1997 and 2002 brought semifinal despair at the hands of Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen respectively.

    United exit?

    If Schalke can match the form that has got them this far, there’s no reason they can’t cause another shock against Ferguson’s men says Schalke midfielder Alexander Baumjohann.

    “Looking at the names, there is hardly any difference between Inter and Man United. The important thing is not to concede at home. Perhaps we can land another upset.''

    With Ferguson dreaming of both Champions League and Premier League glory, it is quite conceivable that now is the time they can. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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