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First-time UEFA Champions League semi-finalists FC Schalke 04 welcome Manchester United FC to Gelsenkirchen for the first leg of a contest that has the look of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.
• For the irresistible force, read a Schalke side with a 100% winning record at home en route to the last four. The immovable object is a United team yet to concede a goal in recording four wins and one draw on their travels in the competition.
• If three-time winners United have vast UEFA Champions League semi-final experience Schalke have in their ranks Raúl González, who lifted the trophy three times at Real Madrid CF, where he was twice United's nemesis.
• This is the clubs' first ever encounter yet United must rewrite their recent UEFA Champions League history against German teams if they are to progress to a fifth final and deny Ralf Rangnick's side a first appearance in the showpiece game.
• Although they have lost just one of ten group stage meetings with Bundesliga opposition, winning five, in two-legged knockout ties United's record reads no wins and four defeats – most recently against FC Bayern München in last year's quarter-finals.
• United visited Bayern for the first leg and took a first-minute lead through Wayne Rooney, only for Bayern to turn the tables with two goals in the last 15 minutes. Sir Alex Ferguson's men surrendered an advantage in the return too, allowing Bayern to claw their way back from 3-0 behind to 3-2 and thereby win the tie on away goals.
• Those four defeats in full are:
1996/97 semi-finals: Borussia Dortmund (0-2 aggregate)
2000/01 quarter-finals: FC Bayern München (1-3 aggregate)
2001/02 semi-finals: Bayer 04 Leverkusen (3-3 aggregate, away goals)
2009/10 quarter-finals: FC Bayern München (4-4 aggregate, away goals)
• Schalke suffered a 5-2 aggregate loss to United's neighbours Manchester City FC in the 1969/70 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup semi-finals, their 1-0 first-leg lead undone by a heavy defeat in Manchester. More recently Schalke surrendered their unbeaten home record against English opposition when losing 2-0 to City in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage.
• Schalke's overall home record against English teams reads W3 D1 L1. That City defeat followed a goalless draw against Chelsea FC in their previous home game with Premier League opponents, in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League group stage.
• The Gelsenkirchen club have recorded five straight home wins in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League, scoring 13 goals and conceding only three. United have an impressive away record, however, having won ten of their last 12 matches on the road in the competition – including four out of five this term without a single goal against.
• United's record on German soil is W3 D4 L4. Their most recent success was a 3-1 win at VfL Wolfsburg in last term's group stage in which Michael Owen scored a hat-trick.
• In two-legged ties with German teams United have recorded two wins and four defeats. That 1969/70 City tie aside, Schalke's only other two-legged meeting with English opposition came against Wolverhampton Wanderers FC in the 1958/59 European Champion Clubs' Cup (2-2 away, 2-1 home).
• While this is Schalke's first time in the last four of the UEFA Champions League, they have contested three semi-finals in UEFA's other club competitions. They lost the aforementioned tie to eventual winners Manchester City in 1970 and went down 1-0 to Sevilla FC in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup, but beat CD Tenerife 2-1 on aggregate en route to capturing the 1996/97 UEFA Cup.
• United are competing in their 12th semi-final in Europe's elite club competition, their record to date reading four wins and seven defeats (W3 L3 under Sir Alex):
2008/09 Arsenal FC: 1-0 (h), 3-1 (a)
2007/08 FC Barcelona: 0-0 (a), 1-0 (h)
2006/07 AC Milan: 3-2 (h), 0-3 (a)
2001/02 Bayer 04 Leverkusen: 2-2 (h), 1-1 (a)
1998/99 Juventus: 1-1 (h), 3-2 (a)
1996/97 Borussia Dortmund: 0-1 (a), 0-1 (h)
1968/69 AC Milan: 0-2 (a), 1-0 (h)
1967/68 Real Madrid CF: 1-0 (h), 3-3 (a)
1965/66 FK Partizan: 0-2 (a), 1-0 (h)
1957/58 AC Milan: 2-1 (h), 0-4 (a)
1956/57 Real Madrid CF: 1-3 (a), 2-2 (h)
• The date of this first leg falls 20 years and two days after Sir Alex's first European semi-final triumph with United, in the 1990/91 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. A 1-1 home draw against Legia Warszawa on 24 April 1991 completed a 4-2 aggregate victory, setting up a final meeting with FC Barcelona which the English side won 2-1.
• With Gary Neville's retirement earlier this season, Ryan Giggs is now the only survivor of the United team that defeated Bayern 2-1 in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final in Barcelona.
• Raúl scored four UEFA Champions League goals in three games against United for Real Madrid. He appeared in both matches of Madrid's quarter-final win in 1999/2000, striking twice in the 3-2 second-leg success in Manchester that secured an identical aggregate victory. Raúl hit two more when Madrid beat United 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabéu in a quarter-final first leg in 2002/03. Giggs and Paul Scholes lined up against Raúl in both of those seasons, while Wes Brown and Rio Ferdinand faced the Spaniard in 2003/03. Both times Raúl went on to earn a winners' medal.
• Dimitar Berbatov was a substitute in the Leverkusen team beaten 2-1 by Madrid in the 2002 UEFA Champions League final, Raúl scoring the first goal. During his time with Leverkusen from 2000 to 2006, Berbatov hit six league goals in 11 meetings with Schalke.
• Rooney was sent off at the Arena AufSchalke in the 62nd minute of England's 2006 FIFA World Cup quarter-final defeat by Portugal. Ferdinand was also in the England side beaten on penalties after a goalless draw.
• At the 2010 World Cup Rooney's England went down 4-1 to Manuel Neuer's Germany in the round of 16. Neuer had earlier been on the losing side against Nemanja Vidić's Serbia, who were 1-0 victors in the group stage. Hans Sarpei's Ghana team beat Vidić and Serbia 1-0 in the countries' opening game in South Africa.
• Atsuto Uchida was in the Japan team that beat Park Ji-Sung's Korea Republic on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the AFC Asian Cup semi-finals in Qatar in January.
• Park struck one of Korea Republic's goals in a 2-0 first-round victory against Angelos Charisteas's Greece at last year's World Cup. The Korean was a team-mate of Jefferson Farfán at PSV Eindhoven in 2004/05, the pair losing a UEFA Champions League semi-final against AC Milan.
• Klaas-Jan Huntelaar played in both legs of Milan's 7-2 aggregate defeat by United in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League round of 16.
• Farfán and Berbatov scored the goals as PSV and Tottenham Hotspur FC drew 1-1 on aggregate in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup round of 16. Both also converted their kicks in the resulting penalty shoot-out, PSV prevailing 6-5.
• Nicolas Plestan's LOSC Lille Métropole side were beaten 1-0 both home and away by United in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League round of 16.
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