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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports


Schalke bank on Raul to shoot down United

Posted: 24 Apr 2011 07:28 PM PDT

Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung (centre) celebrates with Javier Hernandez (left) and Wayne Rooney after scoring during their Champions League quarter-final second leg match against Chelsea at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, April 12, 2011. — Reuters pic

BERLIN, April 25 — Surprise semi-finalists Schalke 04 will look to talisman Raul to carve out a first-leg advantage when they put their 100 per cent home record on the line against Manchester United tomorrow.

The former Spain striker and Champions League all-time top goalscorer has been at the heart of Schalke's run to the last four. After leaving Real Madrid last year after 16 trophy-rich seasons, Raul has scored five times for Schalke in the competition while the Bundesliga side have won five out of five at home.

United know all too well of Raul's qualities as a matchwinner, his two goals for Real at Old Trafford in 2000 knocking the English side out of the competition.

Schalke's demolition job on holders Inter Milan in the last eight will also have left United in no doubt that the German outfit are no soft option, a view that should be reinforced by their poor record against Bundesliga sides.

Although their most famous victory came over Bayern Munich in the 1999 final, United have lost all four of the two legged knockout ties they have played against German sides since the start of the Champions League in 1992.

"The German teams have always had a resilience and determination about them and that will be exactly the same on Tuesday," said Ferguson, whose side lost to Bayern in last year's quarter-finals.

"But we're going into this game with far more experience than in previous years and our experience away from home, and our record, in the last few years has been terrific."

Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick rested several players in their 1-0 home defeat to Kaiserslautern on Saturday.

"We will have a different starting team against United," said Rangnick, who took over from sacked Felix Magath a month ago. "If I had chosen the same team on Tuesday that I did today I don't think we would have a big chance to win against Manchester."

Peruvian Jefferson Farfan, who missed the quarter-final second leg against Inter, will be back in midfield while defenders Benedikt Hoewedes, Atsuto Uchida and Hans Sarpei should also return.

Midfielder Jose Jurado, who came on as a substitute on Saturday, is also expected to start in Schalke's maiden Champions League semi-final appearance.

Schalke, despite being 10th in the Bundesliga, still have two titles to fight for this season with the Champions League and their German Cup final against second division Duisburg in May.

For Schalke's 25-year-old captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who is set to leave in the summer after a staggering 20 years at the Ruhr valley club, there could not be a more appropriate farewell.

"Manchester may have won their last league game but it was not all victories before that. So we know very well that we have a chance against them on Tuesday."

United beat Everton 1-0 on Saturday to close in on the Premier League title.

Defender Nemanja Vidic and midfielder Michael Carrick are set to return after being rested.

Although he knows the value of an away goal at this stage, Ferguson would probably be delighted to come back with a 0-0 draw given the incredible form his side have shown at Old Trafford this season.

Saturday's victory made it 16 wins and a draw from their 17 home league games while they are also unbeaten at home in the Champions League and domestic cups.

Probable teams:

Schalke 04:

1-Manuel Neuer; 22-Atsuto Uchida, 21-Christoph Metzelder, 4-Benedikt Hoewedes, 2-Hans Sarpei; 11-Alexander Baumjohann, 17-Jefferson Farfan, 14-Kyriakos Papadopoulos, 18-Jose Jurado; 9-Edu, 7-Raul.

Manchester United:

1-Edwin van der Sar; 21-Rafael da Silva, 15-Nemanja Vidic, 5-Rio Ferdinand, 3-Patrice Evra; 25-Antonio Valencia, 16-Michael Carrick, 11-Ryan Giggs, 13-Park Ji-sung, 14-Javier Hernandez, 10-Wayne Rooney. — Reuters


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Westwood to replace Kaymer as world number one

Posted: 24 Apr 2011 06:01 PM PDT

Lee Westwood of England hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during third round play in the 2011 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 9, 2011. — Reuters pic

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, South Carolina, April 25 — Britain's Lee Westwood will replace Germany's Martin Kaymer as world number one when the new rankings are published today after Luke Donald failed to win The Heritage yesterday.

Although Westwood sealed a three-stroke victory at the Indonesian Masters earlier in the day, his compatriot Donald had the chance to take over at the top because the Heritage carries more ranking points than the Asian Tour event.

Donald held a one-shot lead going into the final round at Harbour Town Golf Links but lost a playoff for the title with American Brandt Snedeker at the third extra hole.

Westwood, who was world number one for 17 weeks after deposing Tiger Woods in November, will instead end Kaymer's brief eight-week reign at the top. The German did not play this week.

"It was going to be some big rewards if I won today," Englishman Donald told reporters after being beaten by Snedeker after three gripping holes in a sudden-death playoff.

"But I'll try and find the positives from this week and move on to next week. I came pretty close ... but I've still got some time on my side."

Donald, who claimed his third PGA Tour victory at the elite WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, had been bidding to become the fourth world number one in less than six months.

"Certainly number one is not the final goal," the 33-year-old said. "It's a constant travel. You're constantly moving forward in this game. To be number one would be great, but it's not everything.

"It certainly would be a tick in the box and it would be something great to talk to the grandkids (about) in 30 years' time and say that you were the best in the world, but I still have a lot of chances to do that."

With former world number one Woods having lost the aura of dominance he once enjoyed, Donald was excited about the prospect of multiple changes at the top of the rankings.

"Certainly there are a lot of people who have a chance to be number one right now," he said. "I think it's a fun time in golf.

"Obviously Tiger dominated for a number of years and no one was close to him. But now it's a little bit more of a race ... that's kind of fun for the spectators." — Reuters 

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