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Schalke riding a wave of passion in Europe

Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick is convinced his side's relative inexperience will make them more hungry and passionate to win tonight's Champions League semi-final with Manchester United.

In contrast to United, who will be featuring in their 12th last four clash, and hoping to make the final for a fifth time, Schalke have never graced this stage of club football's most prestigious tournament.

Of Rangnick's squad, only legendary Spain striker Raul knows what he is going into.

However, rather than view the position as a negative for his team's chances of reaching Wembley on May 28, the Schalke coach views it as a pretty significant positive.

“Sir Alex Ferguson has more experience and has won many more trophies,” he observed.

“Manchester United do have a very experienced team, on average three to four years older than ours.

“But maybe the fact we are more inexperienced means we are a really hungry team with more passion.

“It is something that makes this match all the more alluring for our team. Our players are in this position for the first time, with the exception of Raul, who might be there for the last time.

“We have to show what we can achieve and get the best out of it, so hopefully, this will be a benefit for us.”

The game has particular significance for Rangnick as it takes the 52-year-old back to his youth.

As a student in the late 1970s, he spent a year at Sussex University, regularly travelling to London to fulfil a lifelong passion with the beautiful game, either by watching Tottenham or Arsenal.

Occasionally, he would venture to the Goldstone Ground, which at the time housed a Brighton side good enough to hold their own in England's highest league.

“They were some of the best years of my life,” Rangnick has said in the past.

“I was there before Hillsborough. It was a wonderful feeling to see the support for everything.

“I didn't quite understand how hooliganism came to light in England. But I did see the great way the police dealt with this problem and how the stadiums were built.

“I am looking forward to the atmosphere, both tomorrow and at Old Trafford.

“In England you don't get situations where the fans whistle in displeasure. It is real support.”

Belfast Telegraph


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