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Dicing with danger

United must not underestimate Schalke, says Thommo

Phil Thompson - Phil Thompson Posted 25th April 2011 view comments

Manchester United are favourites to beat Schalke over two legs and reach their third Champions League final in four seasons - and rightly so.

Schalke's form in the Bundesliga has been nothing great by any means, with Ralf Rangnick's side winning just 11 of 31 games.

But this German side has proven time and again that they can rise to the occasion in Europe and now they have the massive incentive of a Wembley final in their sights, so United must be wary.


Schalke remind me a little of Liverpool in 2005; their position in the Premier League wasn't great at the corresponding time of the season but they knew how to win in Europe.

High-flyer: Hernandez's goal-scoring form has cushioned the blow of losing Berbatov

High-flyer: Hernandez's goal-scoring form has cushioned the blow of losing Berbatov

As patchy as their league form is, they have produced some astonishing results in this season's Champions League - the 5-2 win away at Inter topping the lot.

So United should expect Schalke to be a dangerous animal; the hosts may be underdogs but this is a European semi-final and as a player you don't get too many of those in a career.


United haven't been consistently at their best, either, in the league but they are closing in on the title thanks to their relentless ability to finish sides off.

If you had said six months ago that Dimitar Berbatov would be missing for a game of this stature, I would have been worried for them, but the rapid rise of Javier Hernandez has been absolutely incredible.

Phil Thompson
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If you had said six months ago that Dimitar Berbatov would be missing for a game of this stature, I would have been worried for them, but the rapid rise of Javier Hernandez has been absolutely incredible.

Right now he looks as though he is going to score in every match; his movement is fantastic and his work-rate is great, so the Berbatov blow has been cushioned to a large extent.

Sir Alex Ferguson has one less option if he wants to change something during the game but with Hernandez and Wayne Rooney fine to start I'm sure he won't be overly worried.


Hernandez proved his worth once more at the weekend, scoring the winner against Everton in the 83rd minute.

United have scored so many late goals this season that you can never say a game involving them is over until the final whistle. Another German team, Bayern Munich, found that out to their cost in 1999.

It doesn't always work out like that, though, and with a player of the calibre of Raul in Schalke's ranks, I'm sure Sir Alex will want to put clear water between them and his team.

Raul remains a great goal-scorer and he works hard for the team, even if his build-up play isn't as good as it used to be.

But at this level it's about taking your chances when they come and if he gets the ball in and around the box, United had better watch out.

THOMMO'S CALL: I've just got a feeling that United might come unstuck in this first leg. Schalke are a team that like to counter-attack, both home and away; we saw it against Inter, who came out and attacked to their cost as Schalke hit them on the break. United must be careful not to get sucked into a situation where they have a lot of the ball and feel like the home side. They have to keep the backdoor shut otherwise they could lose this first leg 1-0.

Comments (12)

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Saemundur Amundason (Manchester United fan) says...

Having seen both teams away from home in the CL this season I predict a great game with both teams keeping 8 players on their side of the half way line and Hernandez and Raul huffing and puffing alone up front. Yes, and Van Der Saar will get the ball on the 53rd minute.

Posted 16:54 26th April 2011

Ajay 2023 (Manchester United fan) says...

3-1 to United!

Posted 13:59 26th April 2011

Greg Bishop (Wycombe Wanderers fan) says...

Find it hard to see Man U getting anything out of this leg having seen Schalke play in Europe this season. I suspect Schalke will just be too strong for them. If Man U can escape with a 2-1 or even 3-1 loss, they'll have a good chance to claw back the deficit in the home tie, but I fear Schalke will have it tied up after one leg like they did against Inter. The Premier League has been a shadow of its former self this year, and I suspect had they been playing a team other than Chelsea in the last round, they would have gone out at the quarters. I hope I'm wrong. My prediction is 3-0 Schalke.

Posted 13:10 26th April 2011

Chris Devine (Manchester Utd) (Manchester United fan) says...

I feel an early United goal will see the Germans try to attack and get hit for 2 or 3 goals. so 2-0 United!

Posted 10:08 26th April 2011

Chips Kriss (Manchester United fan) says...

Why is nobody saying the obvious.. United could be done with this tonight.... There is no comparison between the teams or manager. 4-0 to Utd

Posted 09:39 26th April 2011

Paul Ekpo (Manchester United fan) says...

With Man United's impressive away clean sheet (and unbeaten in this season's CL), I see them taking a slight victory (1 - 0) like they did Valencia & Chelsea

Posted 09:38 26th April 2011

Faizan Hameed (Manchester United fan) says...

I'm expecting a dull 0-0 draw in the first leg, very similiart to the Marasielle draw, but at home, it will probably along the lines of a 2-0 victory for united.

Posted 03:13 26th April 2011

Adrian Mclaughlin (Manchester United fan) says...

phil, have u not seen united in europe away from home, cause to my recollection we do not dominate possession of the football the way we used to in years previous so there is no fear schalke wil hit us on the counter attack, fergie is more tactically aware now since workin wit quieroz, we wil sit in and see how the game develops, gone are the days were we were gung ho and tried to win both legs, so i anticipate a performance like per norm ie valencia and rangers (both away from home i may add) and leavin tomorrow night wit a positive result

Posted 00:02 26th April 2011

Salil Rabade (Manchester United fan) says...

Just dont see Schalke scoring.United 2-0

Posted 20:52 25th April 2011

Dylan Rai (Manchester United fan) says...

i know manchester untied are great compared to schalke but with farfan and raul i worry for them sliightly. i completely agree with you that if they udnerestimate schalke and attack then they will be hit on the counter attack and players like raul only need half a yard and half a chance to punish you. i hope vidic and ferdinand start and stop any possible balls getting to raul as he will just lurk around the box waiting for a mistake to capitalise on. but manchester united should be able to win this tie and i predict a 1-0 win away, and a 2-0 win at home with hernandez scoring twice and nani getting the other in the home leg

Posted 16:16 25th April 2011

Nati Tekle (Manchester United fan) says...

Good analysis,but i believe Man Utd will get thier tactics right and come away with a 2-1 win. Man Utd have the players to neutralize Schalke. All are fit and most were rested on saturday so they will have the energy to battle them on thier own field.

Posted 14:51 25th April 2011

Sal Ahmed (Manchester Utd) (Manchester United fan) says...

Schalke are a very good side, but having seen them get outplayed by Kaiserslautern at home on Friday, I think United can get atleast a score draw out of this. Their only downfall could be themselves when they lost concentration last year and got defeated 2-1 by Bayern last year...

Posted 14:26 25th April 2011

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