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Tuesday Kickoff: Champions League preview, Taiwo facing suspension & more

JavierHernandez (Getty Images)


Manchester United faces Schalke 04 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal at the Veltins Arena later today (2:45 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel).

The German side is tagged as the underdog of the tie; however, as Valencia and Inter Milan found out the hard way, Schalke has plenty of weapons that could make United pay.

Former Real Madrid striker Raul has been in fine form this season by netting 12 goals in 31 appearances since joining Schalke last summer. The Spaniard has scored three goals in his last four Champions League games.

Sir Alex Ferguson has announced his relief that Rio Ferdinand could make a return to action tonight after the defender had been sidelined since United's last Champions League match-up against Chelsea earlier this month.

Ferdinand is likely to partner Nemanja Vidic in the center of defense for the Premier League champions-elect, however, the true fitness of the Englishman could well be tested against Schalke.

Striker Wayne Rooney will be hoping to avoid a repeat to his last visit to Schalke's Veltins Arena as it is the same stadium that is notorious for the Cristiano Ronaldo wink that saw Rooney sent off in the 2006 World Cup.  

Reports this morning are announcing that Schalke's 23 year old central defender Benedikt Höwedes has been ruled out for the clash tonight. The German, who has helped Schalke to a 100 percent home record this season, picked up an abdominal injury in last weekend's loss to FC Kaiserslautern.

United is coming into the match riding a narrow 1-0 victory over Everton on Saturday.

Here are some other stories to keep you up-to-date in the soccer world:


After scoring the only goal in Marseille's victory in the Coupe de la Ligue over Montpellier last week, Nigerian left back Taye Taiwo could see his season come to an end after a questionable singing session with club supporters.

In the victory celebrations, Taiwo led supporters in an anti-Paris Saint Germain chant aimed at taunting their Ligue 1 rivals.  The action is still being investigated by the French League, and they are set to review the incident before taking any disciplinary action, if any.

Taiwo has already apologized for his actions, stating that his emotions got the best of him in a momentary mental lapse of judgement.  

If suspended, the news will not please coach Didier Deschamps who lost influential midfield Stephane Mbia for the remainder of the season with a groin problem in that same match over Montpellier.


Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder has insisted today during a Dutch radio interview that he is happy at Inter Milan, despite being flattered by interest from Manchester United.

Reportedly high on Sir Alex Ferguson's list of summer transfer targets, Sneijder played down exit talk after club president Massimo Moratti declared that United's interest is indeed "real".  

Compatriot Rafael van der Vaart also took part in the radio broadcast and argued that London would be a better choice for Sneijder, citing that all the players from the Manchester area end up playing in London in the end.


Unsettled Arsenal attacking midfielder Andrei Arshavin has former employers Zenit St. Petersburg drumming up interest in the Russian international.

Arshavin left Zenit in January 2009 for London for a fee of £15 million, yet has struggled to find his footing this season as the Arsenal season continues to spiral out of control. 

Zenit's sporting director was quoted as saying that Arshavin is always welcome back at his old club, after the 29 year old has been linked with a move away from the Emirates this summer.  

Despite the fact that he has scored some memorable goals (including his four-goal haul in a Premier League match with Liverpool), Arsenal could be tempted into letting their man go.  

Arshavin has scored 22 goals in 70 appearances for the Gunners, including six this season.  


What do you think of the Champions League match today?  Is Ferdinand 100% fit?  Should Taiwo face a suspension?  Would Sneijder be tempted by United?  Do you agree with van der Vaart's comment about Manchester and London?  Is Arshavin's time up in London?

Share your thoughts below


  1. Schalke needs one goal here to at least give them hope for the return match. It isn’t Schalke’s day, but it has shown in this year’s Champions League that it can play better than this – especially in the 5-2 win over Inter in Milan, when they were awesome.

  2. That was a beautifully worked move by Utd. Rooney slipped the ball straight through the middle of Schalke’s defense; Giggs ran on to the pass and gently guided the ball under the approaching Neuer and into the net.

  3. I feel like Hoilett got hurt real bad recently (maybe in the Blackburn-Birmingham tie?), but I’m too lazy to look it up. Shame bc I agree, he is real fun to watch, big bright spot on that squad.

  4. If it wasn’t up there before, its up there nnow. But i agree, they could do a much better job of posting times and channels.

  5. You do mean Arsenal don’t you? The Glazers have owned ManU for some time. I imagine Sir Alex will splash some cash too. It would be a new thing for Arsene.

  6. I’m hoping ManU will splash some cash this summer, with their new owner and all. I know Arsene doesn’t really care for older players, but I think the added experience of someone like Sneijder could really help the squad.

  7. Blackburn’s strategy of playing with one holding midfielder was a stupid idea against Man City. Jones covered tons of ground but was over-run with bodies in the middle, and Dunn was useless going forward. Dunn should have been out on the right or on the bench. The two forwards for Blackburn were also ineffective and failed to link up with each other. What happened to Junior Hoilett — at least he could stretch the centerbacks a little and create space.

  8. Is it intentional that TV and time information is excluded in this preview? Doesn’t the main dude work for Fox Soccer?

  9. It is really a shame that Jermaine Jones got loaned out by the former Schalke coach, otherwise we could be seeing him today, instead of seeing him play for that awful Blackburn squad. I heard the new Schalke manager seems him as an integral part of the team and wants him back after his loan is over. That is good to hear in my opinion.


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