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Manchester United v Schalke: Preview
Published : 04 May 2011 15:29:32
Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick has dismissed the visa red tape wrangle
which caused the Champions League semi-finalists a two-hour delay in
When the German side arrived to catch their flight to Manchester ahead of Wednesday's semi-final second leg with United at Old Trafford, they discovered visas for five of their players, including Jefferson Farfan, Edu and Atsuto Uchida, had not been issued.
No immediate reason was given for the delay, although it was suggested two Bank Holidays around the May Day weekend, including one for the Royal Wedding last Friday, might have meant problems processing the application. The visas were eventually issued, with Rangnick making light of the eventual delay of an hour to Schalke's arrival.
"We didn't know in advance. We got the information when we were waiting at the airport," Rangnick said.
"It was not really a problem for us. The only effect it had was that we left 90 minutes later than we should have done and arrived an hour after. But with the hour time difference we still got to our hotel in time."
Rangnick has enough on his plate without such problems, with his side 2-0 down from the first leg in Gelsenkirchen last Tuesday, when they were horrendously outplayed. But Manchester United also have distractions of their own, with Sunday's title showdown with Chelsea firmly on their minds.
United are preparing to face the Stamford Bridge outfit knowing defeat will knock them off the top of the Barclays Premier League and pitch them into a two-game goal difference shoot-out to decide the championship.
It is a scenario Sir Alex Ferguson had hoped to avoid by claiming something from last weekend's trip to Arsenal. But defeat, plus the memory of how United suffered at Chelsea's hands right in the middle of two huge tussles with Bayern Munich, has led Ferguson to no other conclusion than he must make changes for the game with Schalke.
"If you look at our experience of last year, the team were very tired against Chelsea in that next game after losing in Munich," he said.
"All four semi-finalists lost this weekend too and there are certain statistics that tell you the European games do take it out of you. "That has to have a bearing on my team selection. We have two massive games. Both as important as the other.
"Chelsea is massive, so I have to pick the right team tomorrow to ensure I have the same kind of freshness I need for Sunday's match. "Hopefully I will have the nucleus of a team that is still good enough to win the match."
Wayne Rooney reported for training on Tuesday morning with a tight hamstring and is likely to be on the bench at best. Fabio missed training so his right-back berth will go to either twin brother Rafael or John O'Shea, whilst the extent of Darren Fletcher's recovery from a virus that has kept him out for over two months will be tested at some point.
Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes has missed the last two games with an abdominal strain, but could feature on Wednesday.