Van der Sar, Fabio, Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Carrick, Giggs, Valencia, Park, Rooney, Hernandez.
Bench: Kuszczak, Evans, Rafael, Smalling, Anderson, Scholes, Nani
The nerves and fear the Chelsea game in the quarter-finals brought about seem to overshadow feelings ahead of the Schalke game. The thought of losing to them was painful, particularly knowing we had the easier side of the draw waiting for the semi-finals. Beating them in 2008 was amazing but I couldn’t stand the thought of John Terry’s smug face if they knocked us out, some kind of redemption for him after missing that vital penalty in Moscow.
The relief of reaching the semis, after beating Chelsea both home and away, has allowed this game to creep up on us without all the stress that usually comes with these games. If it was Barcelona or Real Madrid we were playing tonight, I assume that would be different, but there seems to be a feeling of it being ‘only Schalke’.
Our German opponents are currently 10th out of 18 in the Bundesliga and lost at home to lower placed Kaiserslautern at the weekend. Because we’re not playing a Chelsea or a Barcelona, it’s easy to underestimate our opponents, but that would be foolish, given our poor record against German sides and the fact this is their only thing to play for.
For all the criticism that has been aimed at our squad this season, it’s worth noting just how well we’ve done in Europe this season. We’ve won 7 of our 10 games, winning all but one of our away games and haven’t conceded away.
Can that record continue tonight? With such a strong starting line-up, you’d like to think so.
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