Today we truly have a case of David and Goliath as mighty Manchester United are set to face mid-level Bundesliga side Schalke 04 in the Champions League semi-finals. I once told someone that the real difference between the big English clubs like Manchester United and the smaller European sides like Schalke 04 is the former are built on the backs of the fans, the later by them. I think no game in the modern age typifies this more than todays’ match.
Schalke 04 is built on fan power, and you’ll see that tonight in the stands as they’re die hard faithful travel to watch their side, led by Raul, attempt to impossible. Sitting 10 of 18 in the Bundesliga, their really isn’t any reason for United to have trouble with these guys, but thats’ what we said about Inter Milan and we saw how that went. The fact of the matter is this is an in form, dynamic, and highly adaptable side that centers on Raul, but has other options on the wing. They know no fear going forward, and hold strong at the back leading me to believe they may just be able to pull on out against United today.
Look for them to play the exact same tactics and formation as they did in the first half against Inter. It allowed them to defeat the holders, and I don’t think they’ll be keen to change it now. They’ll need to up their tempo to compete with open style of the Manchester United jersey clad men, but assuming they can keep up, they should do well. They need to get a head early and put United away by the 60th minute. Rooney and Chicharito will be a threat, but at least they won’t have Berbatov, who is out injured, to deal with.
United need to respect Schalke’s power and dominance in the midfield to advance today, Ferguson’s men have never defeated German opposition in a knockout match at this level, and need to stay awake to keep themselves in the match. They’ll need to settle early on, and move the ball quickly to keep it away from the lurking Schalke midfield. I’m hoping for cracking match, as I don’t think they’ll be able to sit on their hands and play on the break either. Raul simply makes Schalke too dangerous, and Ferguson knows this, he once called him the best player in the world, and its no secret he’s been a transfer target for years.
Either way its should be a great match, I’m going with Schalke 04 to pull an upset.
Manchester United 1-3 Schalke 04
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
Recent posts in Champions League