Schalke to reshuffle line-up for Manchester United clash

Schalke 04 boss Ralf Rangnick will reshuffle his team for Tuesday's Champions League semi-final against Manchester United after losing in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Schalke to reshuffle line-up for Manchester United clash
Rangnick - plenty to ponder. Photo: DPA

Schalke hopes of a morale-boosting win were dashed when they were forced to swallow a 1-0 home defeat to Kaiserslautern.

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was beaten in the 42nd minute by Kaiserslautern’s Srdjan Lakic.

Neuer had told the Royal Blues on Wednesday he would not renew his contract which expires at the end of next season.

Looking towards the visit by United, Rangnick is expected to revert largely to the side which beat holders Inter Milan 2-1 in Gelsenkirchen in the quarter-finals on April 13.

Spanish play-maker Jose Jurado is expected to start, as will defender Benedikt Hoewedes – who scored the winning goal against Inter – after sitting out Saturday’s defeat with an injury.

The midfield of Greece’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Germany’s Joel Matip, Alexander Baumjohann and Spain’s Jurado is expected to line up again to face United after Rangnick had tried out a totally different quartet against Kaiserslautern.

“I selected the team in such a way, because I wanted to win both of our games (against Kaiserslautern and Manchester United),” said Rangnick.

“In the Champions League, we will select a different starting eleven again.”

But despite his bluster, Rangnick could not hide his disappointment with the defeat.

“If you look at the entire 90 minutes, we had the better chances,” said Rangnick.

“But unlike Kaiserslautern, we did not use our possibilities.

“I am not dissatisfied with the defeat. The team put in a decent performance, this was the first time this particular team has played together, which has to be taken into consideration.”

Meanwhile, Schalke’s bosses are also set to sit down with veteran striker Raul, 33, who is is enjoying a stellar season. They want to talk about an extension to his contract which runs until 2012.

Former Real Madrid star Raul is the Champions League all-time top goal-scorer having netted 71 times.

“We had a first meeting with his agent around the first game against Inter and there will be a further meeting around the United game,” said Schalke’s director of sport Horst Heldt.

“We would love to have him play another few seasons with us – that would make us proud.

“He is an honest man and must be handled with respect.

“We are grateful that he is with us, he is world class and humble, even though he has achieved nearly everything in football.”


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Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.