Man Utd vs Shalke: Injury News, Preferred Team & Predicted Score
After gaining the upper hand in the first leg, Manchester United hosts Schalke 04 in the return leg of their UEFA Champions League Semifinal at Old Trafford.
The Reds completely out-classed the Royal Blues at the Veltins-Arena, but they had to use perseverance to overcome a world-class goalkeeping display to earn their 2-0 victory.
In theory, those two away goals should be more than enough for the Reds to progress to the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final at Wembley in a few weeks’ time, however, they will need to possess complete composure to avoid an embarrassing exit from the competition.
After being completely frustrated for over 65 minutes by their goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney scored two goals in as many minutes to give United a commanding, but susceptible lead going into the second leg.
Let’s face it, Schalke did not get to the semifinal stage by just have loads of luck, they have goals in them and they proved it in the last round. Against Inter Milan, a pretty discipline defensive team and the Miners notched seven in two games – including five at the San Siro.
Everyone knows that a two-goal lead is the worst lead to have in football, and being that this two-legged affair is really at halftime, the Reds will need to go for it. Having been taught a very harsh lesson in their 1-0 loss against Arsenal, Sir Alex Ferguson will encourage his players to smartly enjoy their football.
The Gaffer seemed very content playing for a draw of some sort, which would have not only kept them four points ahead of Chelsea, but also keep a slim advantage in the goal differential column. If they play that way against Schalke, Raul, who has scored a few goals in his day, will pick his spot and the confidence would build from there.
Essentially the Reds need to nip their belief in the bud quickly, because like they experienced at the Emirates Stadium, it does not matter the form of the team. This holds true with Schalke as well, because they are on a mini skid and what better way to get back on track then to beat United in their own backyard.
Since beating Inter Milan, the Royal Blues have not tasted victory in their four games – losing three of them – including 4-1 thrashing against Bayern Munich this weekend. What is most concerning is that Schalke has only tallied two goals – both them away from and one of them being an own goal.
Ferguson has admitted that he will be freshening up his team a little bit, which should give some squad players a chance to contribute to this season’s run-in. Some of the players who are likely to get some minutes under their belt are Darren Fletcher, Rafael, Dimitar Berbatov and Chris Smalling, who have all only played bit parts lately.
Fletcher has been out of action since the beginning of March with a physically-draining virus, while Rafael has been riddled with a couple of unfortunate injuries that has kept him sidelined. However, Smalling has been on standby with the reemergence of Rio Ferdinand in the center of defense, but with a mammoth match with Chelsea on the horizon, he should be given a look.
The same goes for Berbatov, who has only scored four goals in 21 European matches, as Ferguson will look to give Javier Hernandez and Rooney a much needed break, and he could very be partnered with Michael Owen in the attack.
There is no question that Manchester United can not only win this semifinal tie against Schalke, but they can do it with style and conviction, which will springboard their assurance to potentially win the UEFA Champions League and Barclays Premier League titles.
Out: O. Hargreaves (shoulder), Questionable: D. Fletcher (virus)
T. Kusczcak; Rafael, C. Smalling, N. Vidic, J. O’Shea; A. Valencia, P. Scholes, D. Fletcher, R. Giggs; M. Owen, D. Berbatov
Manchester United 1 Schalke 04 1
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