Manchester United Ready For Barcelona Challenge

Manchester United all but secured the Barclays Premier League title on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over Chelsea which put them six points ahead of their closest challengers with just two games to go. Although United still need a point to officially secure the title, they can now start turning their attention to the prospect of a mouthwatering final with the Spanish Champions on May 28th.

The general consensus among the football media is that Barcelona are unstoppable and that United are very much second favourites for the Wembley showdown. The opinion is that this is not as strong a Manchester United side in recent years and as a result Barcelona will be too strong for them.

On a player by player basis, I would agree with the first half of that statement. Wayne Rooney aside, United do not have a truly world class player in the mould of Cristiano Ronaldo or Carlos Tevez. However, as a collective unit, this is arguably one of the most dogged and determined United sides of recent times.

Sure, away from home United have been nothing more than ordinary this season and have leaked goals at an alarming rate. But as has always been a trait in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, when they have needed to get the job done, they have got it done. Last weeks defeat at Arsenal was disappointing but owed as much to a strong performance from Arsene Wenger’s men than it did to poor play from United. However as they have done in responding to defeats by Manchester City and others this season, United bounced back with a victory when it mattered to all but clinch the Premiership title.

That new additions are required in the summer is without question, but there is enough about this group of players - who have scored in every home match this season and are unbeaten at Old Trafford - to win the trophy at Wembley later this month.

United are capable of organising their defensive line in a way that Barcelona do not regularly encounter and with the pace on the break of Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Luis Antonio Valencia, they have more than enough to cause Pep Guardiola’s men problems. Ferguson will still hope to get Darren Fletcher back into his side to face the Catalans but with the pressure off in the remaining games with Blackburn and Blackpool, he has time and freedom to tinker with his side to find a winning formula.

Written by Eddie Smith, a sports blogger who writes about classic football shirts.

Man United On Their Way To Wembley

Manchester United took a two goal lead against Schalke into the second leg of the Champions League semi-final at Old Trafford. United will now play Barcelona in the Champions Leagie Final after beating Schalke 4-1 at Old Trafford (6-1 on aggregate).

Man United starting XI- Van der Sar, Rafael Da Silva, Smalling, Evans, O'Shea, Gibson, Scholes, Anderson, Valencia, Berbatov, Nani.

Subs: Kuszczak, Evra, Owen, Giggs, Hernandez, Vidic, Fletcher.

Jefferson Farfan had Schalke's first shot at goal but his low effort fell just wide of the post. Some brilliant work by Dimitar Berbatov almost created an opening for United, but he was unable to get the ball to a team-mate.

Man United took a 1-0 lead on the night (3-0 on aggregate) in the 26th minute. Darron Gibson put Antonio Valencia through on goal and the winger slotted the ball past Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer.

Man United doubled their lead five minutes later after a bad mistake from Neuer. Gibson's low shot slipped through the keepers hands and over the line to give United a 2-0 lead (4-0 on aggregate).

Schalke pulled a goal back in the 34th minute. After a cross in, the ball took a deflection off Jonny Evans, fell to Jurado who hit the ball past Edwin Van Der Sar.

Immediately after the Schalke goal, United went down the other end and almost replied with another goal but Valencia's effort was cleared off the line.

Anderson brought out a fantastic save by Neuer in the second half. Berbatov
found the Brazilian and his effort had to be forced behind by Neuer for a corner.

Man United's first substitution will be to bring Patrice Evra on for Rafael Da Silva. Smalling did have the ball in the back of the net but the goal was ruled out for offside.

Minutes later Man United did score their third of the night. Luis Nani pulled the ball back to Anderson, who was challenged by Atsuto Uchida in the penalty area but it was Anderson who got to the ball first and he hit it past Neuer.

Immediately after the goal, Darren Fletcher was brought on for Scholes after recovering from an illness. Man United's fourth goal of the game came on the 76th minute. Berbatov's cross in from the right fell to Anderson, who tapped the ball in from close range. That was then followed by United's final substitution of the game, which was to bring on Michael Owen for Berbatov.

Substitute Klass-Jan Huntelaar did score for the away side, but just like Smalling, his was ruled out for offside. Van Der Sar made a brilliant save from Edu, Hunterlaar was the first to the rebound, he did put the ball past the United keeper but he was ruled offside.

Three minutes were added on at the end, which saw Owen curl an effort on goal but he was denied by Neuer.

Champions League Preview : Man United v Schalke

Wednesday night Manchester United hope to book their place in the Champions League final at Wembley. United go into the second leg against Schalke at Old Trafford with a 2-0 aggregate lead.

Team News

Manchester United-

Wayne Rooney missed Tuesday's training session because he has been suffering with a tight hamstring. Man United will assess his injury before the game. Fabio Da Silva also missed the training session.

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that Darren Fletcher will feature tomorrow. Fletcher made his return from illness for Man United's reserves last Thursday, playing the first 45 minutes.

Man United squad: Van der Sar, Kuszczak, Lindegaard, Rafael, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic, Smalling, Evans, Brown, Evra, Valencia, Scholes, Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher, Gibson, Park, Giggs, Nani, Obertan, Rooney, Berbatov, Owen and Hernandez.


Schalke are hoping that Benedikt Howedes has recovered from a strained stomach muscle. Klass-Jan Huntelaar could return from injury. Hunterlaar had been out for two months because of a damaged medial knee ligament.

Most Recent Meeting

Man United and Schalke played each other last week in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final tie. Man United beat the German side 2-0 with goals from Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney.


Man United and Schalke have only played each other once, which was last Tuesday, Man United won the game 2-0.

Recent Form

Man United- LWWDL

1st May: Arsenal 1-0 Man United (Premier League)
26th April: Schalke 0-2 Man United (Champions League)
23rd April: Man United 1-0 Everton (Premier League)
19th April: Newcastle 0-0 Man United (Premier League)
16th April: Man City 1-0 Man United (FA Cup)

Schalke- LLLDW

30th April: Bayern Munich 4-1 Schalke 04 (Bundesliga)
26th April: Schalke 0-2 Man United (Champions League)
23rd April: Schalke 0-1 FC Kaiserslautern (Bundesliga)
16th April: Werder Bremen 1-1 Schalke (Bundesliga)
13th April: Schalke 2-1 Inter Milan (Champions League)


Referee: Pedro Proenca
Assistant Referees: Tiago Trigo and Ricardo Santos
Fourth Official: Duarte Gomes
Additional Assistant Referees: Joao Capela and Joao Ferreira