On the back of a morale-boosting victory against Arsenal in the last match, City travel to Schalke 04 in the second match of the Group A stages of the UEFA Cup. City recorded a victory last time out against Steve McLaren’s FC Twente side and will be looking to make it two out of two when they travel to the Veltins-Arena. Schalke have attained four points from their two games so far, including a 3-1 victory against Paris Saint Germain and 1-1 stalemate with Racing Santander of Spain.
When naming his side for this game, boss Mark Hughes will surely have in mind the match against the other team from Manchester, aka, the Rags, on Sunday. Braziliant star Robinho is doubtful for this game after the his ankle injury picked up against the Gunners. Argentinean right-back Pablo Zabaleta is also battling to be fit, whilst hopeless Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes is definitely out. Elano is another absentee, with the attacking midfielder choosing to remain at home with his wife after the birth of his baby on Wednesday. These injuries may hand starts to the vastly experienced Dietmar Hamann, and Israeli international Tal Ben-Haim will be competing with England under-21defender Nedum Onuoha for the right-back slot.
I don’t know a great deal about Schalke to be honest, but from what I gether, they will pose a dangerous attacking threat and are solid defensively. They have a number of highly talented players including Peruvian striker Jefferson Farfán and experienced German Kevin Kurányi.
Kevin Kurányi ‘v’ Micah Richards.
After a shaky and unconvincing start to the season, Richards looked back to his imperious best in the last match against Arsenal. Kurányi is a very wily and dangerous character up front for the Germans. This contest will play a major role in deciding the final result.
Zé Roberto ‘v’ Dietmar Hamann
As a huge fan of defensive midfielder Hamann, it will be great to see him back in action to replace Robinho. Zé Roberto is a Brazilain winger and is sure to cause problems for the City backline. This battle of creative midfielders will prove highly intruiging and hopefully a joy to watch.
Marcelo Bordon ‘v’ Benjani
Bordon is a former Brazilian international, winning six caps from 1995 – 2004. Benjani has been below par in the last few games since returning from injury and must ‘up’ his game if he is to cause Schalke any problems.
Verdict: Schalke 2-1 City
Unfortunately, and for the first time in my blog career, I feel that City will lose this game. A decent game will be decided by the odd goal. I hope I’m proven wrong and the Blues of Manchester can return with the three points and secure their place in the knockout stages, but ultimately, I think Schalke possess enough quality to defeat an under-strength City.