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P.J. Murray 25th Apr 2011 - 19:04

Schalke to shake United

For Manchester United, 1999 might have been their first Champions League win but it was also the last time they beat a German side in this competition.

Their record since that fateful night has been dreadful, Bayer Leverkusen beat them in the semi-finals in 2002 and Bayern Munich have twice knocked them out in 2001 and last year.

Expectation is that they can overcome the surprise package of the semi-finals Schalke, but The Royal Blues have nothing to lose and will be flying on the back of their overachievement so far.

Alex Ferguson's side are 5/4 to come away from Deutschland with a win and given their home form this season if they can take even an away goal back to Old Trafford the 1/4 about them to qualify will quickly disappear.

Despite only taking over in March, Ralf Ragnick, in his second stint as Schalke manager, has managed to keep the tactics quite similar to his predecessor and if anything the morale and confidence has been boosted.

Schalke are 23/10 to win the first leg, their home form this season in the Bundgesliga has been well below average, but in the Champions League they are a totally different proposition. Their demolition of Inter Milan in the last round broke their habit of home wins built on grinding out away results.

One player re-invigorated by this competition is former Real Madrid great Raul. The 33 year old has shown flashes of brilliance and the last time he faced United he was outstanding in a 3-1 win at the Bernabeu. The veteran is 6/1 to score first and 7/4 to hit the back of the net anytime during the game.

Mario Gavranovic scored a vital goal for Schalke in the Mestella against Valencia and the Swiss footballer is 10/3 to score again at any stage in this game.

Dimitar Berbatov is expected to be once again overlooked in favour of the Rooney-Hernandez partnership. Wayne is 5/1 to score the first goal of the game while Hernandez is 6/1 to open the scoring.

Rising Greek star Kyriakos Papadopoulos man-marked Wesley Sneijder out of the game against Inter and it would be wise to suggest that he will play the same role against Rooney on Tuesday night.

At 6/1 you can back United to sneak a 1-0 win, but the draw seems to be the consensus for this game and 1-1 is 11/2 while 0-0 is 15/2.

Schalke will most likely not revert from their normal tactics which are to try and defend at home and the unders are a short price at 6/10 for less than 2.5 goals to be scored.

Schalke are 4/7 to start with a one goal head start in our handicap markets, while United are 17/5 minus a goal. Both sides strengths are midfield and defence which is why this is shaping up to be a tight affair.

The double result of Draw/Schalke at 11/2 seems appealing given that the home side will certainly look to grind out possibly a one goal win.

Overall I think this has draw written all over it and at 15/2 it's hard to overlook the correct score draw of 0-0.


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