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Pander ready to rise to big occasion

Published: Tuesday 1 April 2008, 15.44CET
FC Schalke 04 defender Christian Pander says getting the chance to face FC Barcelona will be "very special" after missing four months because of a knee problem.
by Matthew Spiro
from Gelsenkirchen

Tournament statistics

SchalkeBarcelona

Goals scored6
 
18
Attempts on target50
 
87
Attempts off target77
 
62
Corners65
 
91
Offsides17
 
26
Fouls committed194
 
154
Yellow cards26
 
20
Red cards0
 
0

Matches

1 April 2008

Roma
0-2
Man. United
Schalke
0-1
Barcelona

2 April 2008

Arsenal
1-1
Liverpool
Fenerbahçe
2-1
Chelsea
 
Published: Tuesday 1 April 2008, 15.44CET

Pander ready to rise to big occasion

FC Schalke 04 defender Christian Pander says getting the chance to face FC Barcelona will be "very special" after missing four months because of a knee problem.

FC Schalke 04 defender Christian Pander is hoping to prove once again that he is a man for the big occasion as FC Barcelona visit the Arena AufSchalke in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Wembley goal
The 24-year-old left-back endeared himself to the German public in the best possible way last August, marking his international debut with a sensational winning goal against England at Wembley Stadium. That heady evening in north London was followed by a second Germany cap against Wales, but a career that has been consistently blighted by injury suffered a further setback in October when Pander damaged knee ligaments and was sidelined for four months.

'Fantastic experience'
He only returned in early March, missing Schalke's memorable UEFA Champions League success over FC Porto, and is determined to make up for lost time against Barcelona. "Playing England was a fantastic experience and, while it's difficult to make comparisons, this game is probably on a par with that," Pander said. "To score for my country against an England side full of so many good players was amazing. But playing Barcelona in the Champions League is also very special."

Westermann emergence
While Pander seems certain to start against the Catalan giants, his exact role remains a mystery. During his absence, Heiko Westermann made the left-back position his own, both with Schalke and with the German national side, meaning that Pander has been moved to the left of midfield by coach Mirko Slomka in recent games.

'Poor results'
Slomka remained coy when asked about team selection during the pre-match conference, but Pander insists he is not concerned where he plays so long as he is on the pitch. "I'm just looking forward to the game because it's an opportunity to take on one of the best clubs in Europe," he said. "I've seen that Barcelona have had some poor results but I'm not sure why – I've been focusing on the Bundesliga and haven't had time to watch Barcelona yet. We'll sit down with the coach later to analyse their strengths and weaknesses."

Pander warning
Schalke have already broken new ground by reaching the last eight of the modern UEFA Champions League and Slomka's men will be confident of troubling a Barcelona outfit who have been in shaky form of late and who travelled to Germany without injured playmakers Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho and Deco. Yet Pander is taking nothing for granted, saying: "Even if Ronaldinho and Messi aren't playing, they have so many good players that we'll not be able to relax. We must stay organised for the entire game. If we can remain solid, I feel we have the attacking players to cause them problems."

Last updated: 01/04/08 11.06CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2008/matches/round=15107/match=301905/prematch/focus/index.html#pander+ready+rise+occasion

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