Manchester United v. FC Schalke 04
FC Schalke 04 will host Manchester United in the first of two legs in the UEFA Champions League semifinals this afternoon.
Though heavy underdogs, Schalke are by no means incapable of an upset. Their attack is led by Raúl González, who is the UEFA competition’s all time scorer with 71 goals and leads the team in champion league goals this year with five. Raúl González netted against defending champion Inter Milan in both legs of the quarter final, and his clever lob pass set up defensive strongman Benedikt Höwedes for the team’s seventh goal in the two-match series. Prior to that Schalke defeated Spanish club Valencia CF and have allowed just eight goals throughout the tournament.
But the Royal Blues of FC Schalke 04 have their work cut out for them. Manchester United have proven to be one of the best defensive teams in the world, allowing just three goals in ten UEFA matches this year. Manchester defeated Premier League rivals Chelsea FC in the first elimination round and bested Olympique de Marseille in the round of sixteen. Though scoring has been a problem for the Red Devils, with just 12 goals in the tournament, strikers like Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernández need only the slightest opportunity to find the back of the net.
However, the Germans open the series at home, which could spur them to take an all-important lead heading back to Manchester. Bear in mind that Schalke are without a loss in the competition since day one, when they were beaten 1-0 by Lyon. The Germans have more than earned their place in the semifinals and will be eager to prove it while Manchester will have it all to lose. The match will be televised on Fox Soccer channel at 11 a.m.
FC Barcelona v. Real Madrid CF
One of the biggest rivalries in all of sports is under the spotlight during the world’s most prestigious soccer events this year, as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF face off in the semifinal round of the UEFA Champions League Tournament.
The first leg of the two-match semifinal series — set for April 27 in Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu — will be the second four matches in three weeks between the two clubs. In a highly anticipated matchup, Real Madrid beat Spanish La Liga for Barcelona to win the Copa Del Rey on a header from forward Christian Ronaldo in extra time last week.
In manager José Mourinho’s first year with the Spanish club, Real Madrid has played exceptionally well in the Champions League to advance past the round of 16 for the first time in five years. With a potent attack led by Ronaldo and Ángel di María, Real Madrid defeated English club Tottenham Hotspur FC to reach the semifinals.
Argentine forward Lionel Messi and his teammates have continued their domination on the pitch this season by controlling possession and attacking with patience. Barcelona defeated Premier League club Arsenal and then Ukranian soccer club Shakhtar Donetsk in the quarterfinals to again advance to the semifinal round of the UEFA Champions League, where they lost to eventual champion Inter Milan last year. But the hopeful return of injured Captain Carles Puyol will be crucial to help a banged-up Barcelona defense.
When Barcelona and Real Madrid take the pitch, the event is more than a soccer match. Two giants of the sport and their communities of dedicated fans clash to decide superiority. With a spot in the finals of the UEFA Champions League at stake, Wednesday’s match will showcase soccer at its finest. The match will be televised on FX at 11:00 a.m.