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Schalke 04 vs Manchester United: A rough study guide

Have you done your homework ahead of this evening’s Champions League clash? Paul Ring is on hand to help out.

Raul celebrates with Schalke fans following the German side's quarter-final victory against Inter Milan.
Raul celebrates with Schalke fans following the German side's quarter-final victory against Inter Milan.
Image: Martin Meissner/AP/Press Association Images

History

THE IS THE first meeting between the two clubs but Man United have had previous with the Germans in the past.

In 1997, Borussia Dortmund knocked the Premier League giants out at the semi-final stage after winning both legs 1-0. That knockout was a contributing factor in Eric Cantona’s decision to retire from Old Trafford.

United partied like it was 1999 in, erm, 1999 when they completed arguably the most stunning comeback in the history of the Champions League when they defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 in the final. Bayern gained revenge two years later by knocking them out at the quarter-final stage while Bayer Leverkusen inflicted the same fate on them two years later.

Bayern again knocked out United at the quarter-final stage last year despite going 3-0 down at Old Trafford. Any students using the phrase “Beware the Germans” will be marked accordingly.

Extra marks will be given for remembering that Raul scored twice when Real Madrid knocked out United again at that quarter-final stage in 2003. His performance that night was so good that Alex Ferguson labelled him “the best player in the world” at the time.

He still wasn’t as good as Gareth Bale in my humble opinion.

Maths

This subject is full of variables tonight and the answer will not be known afterwards but the question will be.

United will want an away goal but will settle for a scoreless draw. Judging by Schalke’s previous rounds they are happy to multiply anything they concede.

Economics

Schalke owe their giant goalkeeper Manuel Neuer quite a lot for getting this far. Behind a sometimes shaky defence he has been a model of consistency, but they are €200m in debt so when Bayern Munich came calling with a €20m offer for him, they had to accept.

The only way Schalke can qualify for the tournament next year is by winning it as they are cut adrift in the Bundesliga. The harsh reality is many of the stars that have got them this far may have to be sold next year to balance those books. It’s harsh, but it’s the reality

United’s economics problem will not be on the test. Any club that can have record profits and then operating losses are a problem too steep for us mere mortals. Anyone have Brian Lenihan’s number?

Drama

The first leg may only see a brief smattering of this subject. There may be quite a bit of shadow boxing as both will hope to still be alive when they head to Manchester.

That said, Schalke’s first leg at Inter had more drama then a season finale of Home and Away so students should be wary.

Philosophy

Schalke’s is simple: all out attack.

United’s is a bit more muddled: attack when the numbers add up but make sure we defend. Call it an economical philosophy. They will try to absorb the punches and reply with a knockout jab.

Schalke will hope their ceaseless running will wear down a United side possibly running on empty after a long domestic season.

Attendance

Possible teams

Schalke 04: Neue, Uchida, Metzelder, Howedes, Sarpei, Matip, Papadopolous, Farfan, Juardo, Edu, Raul.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Park, Rooney, Hernandez.

Further reading

Kevin McCarra of the Guardian reckons United can cut loose against the Germans.

German guru Raphael Honigstein tells us where Schalke are at the moment.

Sid Lowe spoke to Raul last Saturday.

Gabriele Marcotti, writing in the Wall Street Journal, argues the case for Javier Hernandez as the Premier league MVP.

Phil Thompson says United daren’t underestimate the Germans.

Timetable

Kickoff is 19:45. Join the boys at the liveblog from seven for banter, confirmed team news, and Shakespearian description of any action. Trust me, it’s better than Alan Smith.

About the author:

Paul Ring

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