Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer insists Schalke are not afraid of Champions League semi-final favourites Manchester United.Bundesliga side Schalke host English Premier League leaders United on Tuesday in the first leg of their European Cup tie, with a place in the Wembley final up for grabs.
United, boasting the likes of England striker Wayne Rooney, Serbia centre-back Nemanja Vidic and Portugual winger Nani, appear better equipped to reach what would be their third final in four years.
But 25-year-old Neuer – himself a sought-after Germany international – does not fear Sir Alex Ferguson’s seasoned campaigners.
“I have respect for those players but I’m not afraid of them,” Neuer said.
“I’ve already played against Rooney once in the World Cup and it ended positively for Germany. I hope it’ll be similar against Manchester United.”
“They have many good players,” he added.
“There is the experience of Ryan Giggs and Edwin van der Sar. I was a big fan of Van der Sar when I was growing up, but you can’t just pick out one player.”
“The team is the star at Manchester United. I have to say I really like the way they play.”
Schalke have their own Champions League veteran in former Real Madrid striker Raul, a man Neuer is backing to give his side the edge over the two legs.
“He has so much experience and he’s very important for us in these games,” Neuer said.
“Raul has great statistics in the Champions League. He scores a goal every two games – so he’ll definitely score against Manchester United.”
Despite upsetting defending champions Inter Milan in the quarter-finals, Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick believes his team remain the least fancied outfit in the last four.
“We are the clear underdogs in this tie too,” Rangnick said.
“Everybody expects Manchester United to win easily.”