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Schalke can pose threat to Manchester United

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14 Apr 2011 00:31:24

Schalke can pose threat to Manchester United

After their win over Chelsea, Manchester United will take on Schalke after the German side thrashed reigning champions Inter Milan 7-3 on aggregate. Michael Walker joined Sir Alex Ferguson and Mike Phelan in Germany to assess what awaits United in the semi-finals. GOALKEEPER Manuel Neuer has been monitored by Manchester United and it's not difficult to see why.  The 25-year-old German international goalkeeper, who is Schalke's captain, has been at the club from junior level and won't be fazed by the scale of a Champions League semi-final. In demand: Neuer has attracted interest from across Europe after a string of impressive displays Happier now that Ralf Rangnick has replaced Felix Magath as manager. In the fifth minute Neuer made a tone-setting, authoritative stop from Sneijder, followed by a flying one-handed save from Dejan Stankovic later. DEFENCE Schalke lined up 4-4-2 in defending their 5-2 lead and played their part as a 2-1 win sent the Germans into the last four. The defence combines youth and experience, with two thirtysomethings in Christoph Metzelder and Hans Sarpei and two 23-year-olds in Benedikt Howedes and Atsuto Uchida. Metzelder missed the first leg with a broken nose. Last night he played with a protective mask. Not quick, but a couple of early interventions showed his experience. Masked crusader: Metzelder (left) celebrates Schalke's triumph over Inter Metzelder is known but, beside him, Howedes less so. Yet he is a potential star on this evidence. Howedes has come through the ranks, he is fast and strong and made big tackles.  He had a claim on being man of the match even before he rampaged forward on to Raul's 81st-minute pass to lash in the winner. Faced with an Inter side who had to take the initiative and throw caution to the wind, Schalke's back four had to be solid. They were, but Inter's early pressure faded and United, in Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, will present Schalke with greater pace and power. Thiago Motta's 49th-minute equaliser came from a corner and a scramble at the near post. MIDFIELD Schalke's central midfield pairing of Joel Matip and Kyriakos Papadopoulos have a combined age of 38, one more than Ryan Giggs. There was expectation that Julian Draxler, 17, would start but he was on the bench. Draxler is more attacking than Papadopoulos yet the young Greek got forward when he could. Wide of them were Alexander Baumjohann on the right and Jose Manuel Jurado on the left. Middle men: Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Joel Matip will look to run the midfield against United Baumjohann was nippy and inventive but he will be replaced against United by Peruvian winger Jefferson Farfan, who was suspended last night. Jurado was with Raul at Real as a youngster and played for Atletico Madrid after that. Smooth on the ball, he likes a crossfield pass. The Sneijder of this team, it was Jurado's cute pass that set up Raul for his goal. Last night, Inter did not have the wide impetus that Nani and Park Ji-sung give United, but if Park plays on the right, tracking Jurado will be an important part of his game. ATTACK There is not much more to be said about Raul. At 33 he remains elusive, as was shown by his 71st Champions League goal. His strike partner, Edu, was a willing helper but will not face United if, as expected, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is fit. Still going strong: Raul joined the Schalke fans to celebrate his goal against Inter For all Raul's quality in the box, he doesn't possess the direct threat of a Drogba, and if Vidic and Ferdinand stand strong, they should be able to counter the pairing. VERDICT Sir Alex Ferguson and Mike Phelan will not have departed Gelsenkirchen trembling, but they will have noted the vibrancy of Schalke. They possess a nice mix of energy and know-how. They were disciplined and defended as a team. Jurado, Howedes and Raul can make a difference. There may be a comparison with Bayer Leverkusen a decade ago. They will also have noted the atmosphere.  Schalke 2 Inter Milan 1 (agg 7-3): Fergie sees Raul book semi-final dateCHAMPIONS LEAGUE LIVE: Tottenham 0 Real Madrid 1 - the action from White Hart Lane as it happenedMan Utd 2 Chelsea 1 (agg 3-1): Hernandez and Park end Blues' runAll the latest Manchester United news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Mike Phelan, Felix Magath, Park Ji-sung, Nani Places: Germany


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