By beating reigning champions Inter 8:3 on aggregate in the Champions League quarter-finals, Schalke have gained a wide acclaim in the football world, but the Germans are, nonetheless, rated as underdogs in this clash. Manchester United are the team that thrive under pressure and they proudly wear the favourite’s tag.
Rangnick rested star players in weekend’s game
Never has one team had so many problems on domestic stage while impressing in Europe, but Schalke proves there is a first time for everything. The Royal Blues started the European campaign without any special ambitions and it is that kind of approach that allowed the players to play without any pressure, which resulted in some remarkable performances. After qualifying from the group stage and eliminating Valencia, Schalke played two perfect games to beat Inter 8:3 on aggregate and earned a tie with Manchester United. While the Royal Blues have shown they are a good team, I really don’t think they can repeat the performance from the matches against Inter, especially as Manchester United will not allow them to do so. Even if Ralf Rangnick’s team have proved doubters wrong on numerous occasions this season, I just can’t see how inexperienced Schalke side will be able to match a team like Manchester United.
Jose Jurado, Atsuto Uchida, Hans Sarpei, Kiriakos Papadopoulos and Alexander Baumjohan are set to return to the starting 11 after they were rested at the weekend, while Benedikt Howedes and Peer Kluge should be in contention.
United secured the Premier League title
Manchester United continue to impress even though the squad lack some quality as well as a strength in depth, but the tactical genius of Sir Alex Ferguson remains their main driving force. United did miss out on the FA and Carling Cup, but they are closing in on the Premier League title, while playing some great football in Europe. The six-point cushion at the Premiership summit will allow the team to fully focus on the Schalke clash and the Red Devils now have a great chance to make it to the Champions League final. The under strength United side managed to record a very important victory at the weekend, having beaten high-flying Everton and now the Red Devils can focus on the job ahead. Following Schalke’s impressive double win over Inter, there is no way the visitors will take this game lightly and the right mental approach should be the key to winning this match.
Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick and Rafael should return to the side, while Paul Scholes returns from a domestic ban.
Schalke have done brilliantly against both Valencia and Inter, but I cannot help but feel they don’t have what it takes to match a side like Manchester United. The Red Devils are superior to Schalke in every area of the pitch and their quality should shine at Veltins Arena.
Our prediction: Manchester United with +0.25 Asian handicap
Odds: 2.02 (51/50)