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FC Schalke 04 midfielder Julian Draxler hopes his side can repeat their run to the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League semi-finals – yet admits the Bundesliga club will miss the goals of Raúl González.
The 18-year-old, who won his first Germany cap in a May friendly against Switzerland, may have his sights set on another memorable European campaign but qualifying from a UEFA Champions League group containing Montpellier Hérault SC, Arsenal FC and Olympiacos FC is the immediate priority. "I had the chance to play in the semi-finals two years ago," he said. "It would be a great achievement if we made it again, but first we should focus on the group stage, look at our opponents and enjoy every match that we play in the Champions League."
However, Schalke must negotiate Group B of the elite competition without Raúl. The 35-year-old added valuable experience to their ranks for two successful seasons before leaving Gelsenkirchen in the summer for al-Sadd of Qatar. Draxler is quick to praise one of European club football's all-time leading scorers. "He was an absolute leader, just because of his experience," said the teenager. "He has played at a top-class level for many years.
"He was crucial many times in Bundesliga and Champions League matches. He was a great example for the club. Many people said he brought a bit of glamour here to the Ruhr area, and I agree. If you have such a top star at Schalke, it does everybody good, as it would at any club."
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