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Champions League rolling blog: 26 April

Published: Tuesday 26 April 2011, 23.59CET
UEFA.com's live blog has reaction from Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson, Manuel Neuer and Christoph Metzelder to Manchester United FC's 2-0 semi-final first-leg win at FC Schalke 04.
 
Published: Tuesday 26 April 2011, 23.59CET

Champions League rolling blog: 26 April

UEFA.com's live blog has reaction from Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex Ferguson, Manuel Neuer and Christoph Metzelder to Manchester United FC's 2-0 semi-final first-leg win at FC Schalke 04.

In Tuesday's UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney scored as a dominant Manchester United FC defeated FC Schalke 04 2-0 in Gelsenkirchen.

UEFA.com brings you the reaction from the Arena AufSchalke (all times CET).

Tuesday 23.59, London
Video highlights of tonight's game are available here. The blog will return at 10.00CET with more reaction from Gelsenkirchen, while we will also look forward to Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona.

Tuesday 23.46, Gelsenkirchen
Patrice Evra was full of praise for Ryan Giggs after the midfielder set United on their way to victory in western Germany. "He is really amazing, a legend, a role model," said Evra, who was part of a defence which has not conceded a goal away from home in this season's UEFA Champions League, the first side to achieve that feat. "At 37 he runs more than anyone. He is decisive; look at his three assists against Chelsea."

Tuesday 23.22, Gelsenkirchen
Ryan Giggs was confident United's pressure would eventually tell despite a succession of missed opportunities, particularly in the first half. "I thought if we kept creating chances one would go in," said Giggs, who overtook Filippo Inzaghi as the oldest goalscorer in UEFA Champions League history aged 37 years and 148 days. "We created enough in the first half to be four or five up. Before the game we'd have taken 2-0 but we're slightly disappointed it was only 2-0."

Tuesday 23.12, Gelsenkirchen
An impressive performer in the Schalke goal, Manuel Neuer said the Bundesliga side showed United "too much respect", adding: "We couldn't build up pressure in midfield and United created space very well. This made it very hard for us to force mistakes. We won't give up in the second leg but the result is pretty clear."

Tuesday 23.04 Gelsenkirchen
Sir Alex Ferguson hailed a "top performance" from his United side while also paying tribute to the display of Schalke No1 Manuel Neuer. "Our concentration, intensity and speed of passing was excellent," said Sir Alex. "It was a really top performance. I'm really pleased; every one of them has done fantastically well, it's a marvellous result. Neuer was fantastic − it was one of the best performances I've seen against Manchester United."

Tuesday 22.56, Gelsenkirchen
Schalke defender Christoph Metzelder is brave enough to say his side came up short tonight, adding: "We have to admit we had no chance, apart from the first ten or 15 minutes. That was because of the class of our opponents. We'd obviously intended to do better but we never managed to get into the game."

The centre-back is not completely giving up on next week's match in Manchester, however: "In sport you always have hope. It'll be a fantastic game for us, and we'll try everything at Old Trafford."

Tuesday 22.51, Gelsenkirchen
Wayne Rooney is not taking a place in the final for granted despite United's impressive victory. "Schalke are a good team and you can't take them lightly, you saw how they went to Inter and won 5-2 there," he told Sky.

The England striker doubled his side's lead on 69 minutes, moments after Giggs had finally opened the scoring for a vibrant United team. "I think we played really well tonight and fully deserved the victory, but we are a bit disappointed we didn't take more of our chances," Rooney added. "We have to be professional and finish the job off at home."

Tuesday, 22.30, London
A preview of Wednesday's all-Spanish encounter between Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona can be found here, while Marcelo and Javier Mascherano have also given their views ahead of the game at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Tuesday 19.30, London
The lineups for Schalke v Man Utd have been announced. They can be found in the UEFA.com MatchCentre, where you can follow all of the action from Arena AufSchalke. The blog will not be updated while the games are in progress but be sure to return at full time for immediate post-match reaction from the main protagonists.

Tuesday 19.25, Simon Hart at Arena AufSchalke
There is a long queue for food in the press room where chicken, potatoes and pretzels are on the menu. As for what kind of match we'll be served up with, Mark Lawrenson, a member of Liverpool's 1984 European Champion Clubs' Cup-winning team and now a BBC analyst, is predicting a 1-1 draw tonight and a two-goal win for the English team at Old Trafford.

Paddy Crerand, who won the trophy with United in 1968, is more circumspect, pointing to their recent FA Cup semi-final loss to Manchester City FC as proof that it is hard making predictions at this stage of a competition. "You never know in a semi-final," he said. "German sides are always hard to beat," added Crerand, pointing to the fact United had not beaten Bundesliga opposition at the business end of this competition since the 1999 final and also Schalke's improvement under Ralf Rangnick.

Tuesday 19.21, Paul Bryan at Santiago Bernabéu
Andrés Iniesta cut a lonely figure out on the Santiago Bernabéu pitch a short time ago as he trained apart from his team-mates before walking out of the session. Rumours were rife in the Spanish press this morning that the midfielder had picked up a right calf injury and all signs point to that being the case. The 26-year-old's possible absence would represent another headache for coach Josep Guardiola who already needs to find a solution at left back with Adriano, Maxwell and Eric Abidal all definitely out.

Indeed the Barcelona coach appeared in reflective mood while playing keepie-uppie alone in the centre of the pitch, each touch of the ball being snapped by the dozens of photographers present at the session of which the first 15 minutes were open to the press. One man who looked determined as ever, however, was defender Carles Puyol who appears ready for action after recent knee and hamstring problems. Each long pass from the Barça captain produced a sound that boomed out around the empty stands as the sun went down behind this famous arena.

Tuesday 19.10, Marcos Prieto at Santiago Bernabéu
Barcelona have just started training following some words from Mascherano, remembering Liverpool FC's 1-0 round of 16 first-leg win at Real Madrid in 2009, in which he played, setting up a 5-0 aggregate success. "The situations were very different and of course I was playing for a different team," he said. "With Liverpool we managed to qualify and that was great.

"What we have to do is to play like the second half in the Copa del Rey final in Valencia," he added. "In the first half of that game we didn't have possession and couldn't play our usual game."

Tuesday 18.40, London
We now have video of José Mourinho's press conference: click on the picture to watch.

Tuesday 18.25, Paul Bryan at Santiago Bernabéu
As we await the arrival of Javier Mascherano we've just had news of the Madrid squad and it reveals an important absentee, that of Sami Khedira who misses out with a tear in his right thigh. Lassana Diarra, who returned from a hip complaint to feature in the 6-3 win at Valencia CF last weekend, may well be the man to provide cover in defensive midfield. Emmanuel Adebayor and Ángel Dí María have also shaken off knocks and make the final cut.

Tuesday 18.15, Marcos Prieto at Santiago Bernabéu
Real Madrid playmaker Kaká trained this afternoon with his team-mates at Valdebebas after flying in from Sao Paulo, where he met his newborn daughter Isabella. Meanwhile, anticipation is growing here at the press conference room as media await the words of Mascherano and Guardiola either side of their training session.

Tuesday 18.00, London
Within the next hour, Javier Mascherano will be speaking to the media in Madrid. Our Barcelona correspondent Graham Hunter believes dominating possession is the key to the club's success, while Madrid-based Paul Bryan, our reporter tonight, analyses Real's return to this stage of the competition.

Tuesday 17.30, London
At least one record will have to go tonight. Schalke have won all five of their UEFA Champions League home games so far scoring 13 and conceding only three. United, meanwhile, are yet to concede a goal on the road in this season's competition.

Tuesday 17.00, London
The Schalke coach once spent a year living in England learning the language and playing for non-league Southwick FC, and when Sir Alex Ferguson took over at United in 1986, Ralf Rangnick was coaching VfB Stuttgart's amateur team. And, as UEFA.com found out on Monday, Rangnick cannot wait to meet Sir Alex.

Tuesday 16.31, Simon Hart in Gelsenkirchen
Graeme Souness, a European champion with Liverpool FC in 1984, and former England midfielder Jamie Redknapp are here in the hotel beside the Arena AufSchalke, preparing to cover the match for Sky Sports. Another familiar face is Andy Roxburgh, UEFA's technical director. He considers United favourites but says Schalke should not be underestimated and anticipates the home supporters whipping up a wonderful atmosphere in the stadium tonight

Tuesday 16.11, Marcos Prieto at Valdebebas
Madrid are now having a work-out at the Valdebebas training ground under a cloudy sky. Barcelona arrived in the capital at noon with around 100 fans waiting at Barajas Airport. The players are now at the hotel and will train at the Santiago Bernabéu at 19.00. Also at the stadium, Javier Mascherano addresses the media at 18.45 and Pep Guardiola following training at 20.00.

Tuesday 16.01, Simon Hart in Gelsenkirchen
Sir Alex Ferguson claimed in yesterday's press conference to be unaware of the significance of the Arena AufSchalke for Wayne Rooney – and even said he wasn't watching when his striker was sent off playing here for England at the 2006 World Cup. Rooney himself will not have forgotten though his newly up-and-running Twitter account tells us he has been relaxing today by listening to the Beatles.

"Morning all in room listening to the beatles. Best band ever in my opinion. Excited for tonight. Come on the red men," he wrote. Yet if United fans will hope their striker will be here, there and everywhere tonight, the Schalke supporters would prefer to see a hard day's night for the Liverpudlian...

Tuesday 15.41, Marcos Prieto at Valdebebas
Defender Marcelo joined Mourinho in the press conference. "Champions League semi-finals are very difficult games but very beautiful games that everybody wants to play," he said before turning to the subject of defensive colleague Pepe, who could again be used in midfield. "Pepe is a phenomenal player, everybody knows that. He will play well wherever the coach tells him to but I think he is best as a central defender."

Tuesday 15.27, Marcos Prieto at Valdebebas
Mourinho's thoughts can now be revealed. "I don't mind if Guardiola says we are favourites. I don't think so," he mused. "There are no favourites before the first leg." Despite having seen off Wednesday's opponents with Chelsea FC, Inter and, last week, Madrid, he added: "I don't have a magic formula to beat Barcelona. The only formula I have is hard work. I am the same coach who lost 5-0 against Barcelona six months ago. Since then we played the league game at home and drew 1-1 and won 1-0 in the Copa del Rey."

Tuesday 14.44, Paul Bryan at Valdebebas
A year and one week ago today, José Mourinho sat down inside FC Internazionale Milano's Appiano Gentile training complex and told reporters that his Nerazzurri side had a 50% chance of reaching the 2010 UEFA Champions League final at the expense of then favourites Barcelona. After all that has happened since, one wonders how the Portuguese tactician will weigh up Madrid's chances of ousting the Azulgrana in this season's semi-final. We're about to find out with this afternoon's press conference just moments away...

Tuesday 13.45, London
Schalke quartet Raúl González, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and José Manuel Jurado will all have to watch their step tonight: they have received two yellow cards during the tournament and another booking would mean suspension for next Wednesday's second leg at Old Trafford. Though eight United players have been booked in the competition, none more than once.

Similarly on Wednesday, while Madrid's Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Raúl Albiol and Ángel Di María are a caution from suspension, and indeed Ricardo Carvalho is banned, no Barcelona player is in such peril.

The full disciplinary list can be seen on page 38 of the match week stats pack.

Tuesday 13.00, Steffen Potter in Gelsenkirchen
Jens Lehmann, now back at Arsenal FC, told German newspaper Bild that there is a way past United for Schalke. "Even though United may have the better individual players, I see a physical advantage for Schalke. If Raúl, Edu or Farfán can get at their defence, Man U have their weaknesses."

Meanwhile, Süddeutsche Zeitung are examining United's reputation. "Alex Ferguson with his insatiable thirst for success is propelling this machine that has been producing results for 25 years. United do not need an identity, their side play flexible football without any ideology, ranging from powerful and dominant to coolly waiting for the right opportunity ...  In England, his team is being underrated despite their success, as they play pragmatic football. "Not a bad side, but judged by their own expectations only average," said BBC pundit Alan Hansen. Ferguson will have heard that with pleasure: one more opponent to see off.

Tuesday 12.30, London
Talking of Madrid, when Raúl González was there he proved United's nemesis in the quarter-finals in 1999/2000 and 2002/03. Now he will aim to do so again with Schalke.

Tuesday 11.48, Paul Bryan in Madrid
José Mourinho will put his charges through their final workout ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Clásico at the club's impressive Valdebebas training complex at 15.30 after the coach – and defender Marcelo – address the media (see 10.02).

Tuesday 11.22, London
While many of the English newspapers do not attempt to hide the fact they think United are strong favourites against Schalke, the Daily Telegraph noting that Sir Alex Ferguson "has faith in his squad", the same article goes on to say that "United often find German sides forming an insurmountable obstacle on the road through Europe".

Indeed, United's poor record against Bundesliga opposition in two-legged knockout ties should give Ralf Rangnick's men belief – the Red Devils have lost two quarter-final ties against FC Bayern München (2000/01, 2009/10) and semi-finals against Borussia Dortmund (1996/97) and Bayer 04 Leverkusen (2001/02).

Tuesday 10.59, Paul Bryan in Madrid
The good news for Barcelona as they prepare to jet towards the Spanish capital on a bright spring morning, is that defenders Carles Puyol and Gabriel Milito will be on the plane. The former had been carrying a hamstring problem while the latter looks to have shaken off the calf complaint he picked up at the weekend. Maxwell (groin) hasn't made the trip, however, and with Adriano (thigh) and Éric Abidal (liver surgery) also missing out, Josep Guardiola is without a recognised left-back for tomorrow night's encounter.

Tuesday 10.44, Simon Hart in Gelsenkirchen
It's another warm day in Gelsenkirchen where the countdown to tonight's big match is under way. In the programme for the game is a light-hearted piece titled 'Football's Coming Home' which pokes fun at some English cultural quirks such as driving on the "wrong" side of the road – "it's a miracle there aren't more road accidents" – and, inevitably, the England national team's past failures in penalty shoot-outs. "England is the home of football but they still haven't learned to take penalties."

All tongue-in-cheek stuff, though it was at the Arena AufSchalke that England suffered their last spot-kick defeat in a major tournament, against Portugal at the 2006 FIFA World Cup on an afternoon that Wayne Rooney was sent off. Rooney now returns to the scene of that nightmare but will he, and United, have the last laugh?

Tuesday 10.33, Madrid
Looking forward to tomorrow's game, and sports daily AS has gathered opinions from both camps ahead of the opener at the Santiago Bernabéu. Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said his side would maintain their recent approach against Barcelona in what he expects to be a tight tie.

"There aren't 90 minutes, are 180," said the 25-year-old, whose side beat Barça in the Copa del Rey final last week. "Knowing the opponents as we do, we know we'll have to try and do things like in these last two games." Meanwhile Blaugrana midfielder Andrés Iniesta highlighted his sole objective: "Scoring is not important to me; all that matters is getting to Wembley."

Tuesday 10.08, London
United have the joint-best defensive record in this season's competition, but the Guardian newspaper is urging the Red Devils to go on the attack against a Schalke side that has scored nine more goals than them so far. "It might almost make sense for circumspect United to go against recent type and rush to land the first blow in Gelsenkirchen," it reports.

Tuesday 10.02, London
Read the thoughts of Ralf Rangnick and Sir Alex Ferguson in our preview of tonight's game, while we also have features on two goalkeepers at opposite ends of their careers and who will face off tonight, Manuel Neuer and Edwin van der Sar.

Later, we will hear from José Mourinho and Josep Guardiola ahead of tomorrow's all-Spanish contest. Madrid's press conference starts at 14.45, while Guardiola takes to the floor at 20.00.

Tuesday 10.00, London
Do not forget to get involved in our Predictor competition this week, while tickets will be on offer in our Player Rater feature during the games. Prizes are also available to win in Play of the Day later in the week. Visit the Ford Classics page and enter the Champions Quiz for the chance to go to this season's final.

Keep up to date with all the latest news and exclusive interviews through our official Facebook pages for the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA.com.

Last updated: 09/05/13 9.15CET

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