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Apr 14, 2011

Raul revels in Schalke success

After rolling back the years with an expertly-taken goal and a wonderful assist to see Schalke safely past Inter and into the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday night, Raul admits he is allowing himself to dream of a return to the final.

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The forward, who won the competition three times in a long and prolific career with Real Madrid, was in vintage form as Schalke defeated Inter 2-1 on the night in Germany, and 7-3 on aggregate.

He rounded Julio Cesar to extend his record tally in the competition to 71 goals, before supplying a dinked through-ball for defender Benedikt Howedes to secure the victory with nine minutes remaining.

Schalke have never reached the last four of the European Cup but as an old hand in the competition, Raul knows that potentially greater feats await should the club defeat Manchester United, with a potential final against his former side on the horizon.

"We are happy, now we have two great semi finals, us against United and Real Madrid against Barcelona," Raul told Sky Sport Italia. "It was important to beat Inter, now we dream of the final after such a great achievement."

In a separate interview with UEFA.com, Raul added: "It's incredible - a great moment. It's great to be part of this team. With so many new players having arrived, to find ourselves rubbing shoulders with the best three teams in Europe is hugely satisfying.

"We will try to enjoy this situation but we know we will have to work hard over the next two weeks to prepare for the semi-finals.

"We have won twice against the reigning European club champions; we were the better side in both games and now we must face a really complicated semi-final against Manchester United. We have to get it out of our heads that we are playing a big team like United and believe that we can reach the final, even though we won't be favourites."

Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick has played down his side's chances of reaching the final.

"A semi-final in the Champions League is something extraordinary for all of us and against Manchester United we will start in a similar position to how we began against Inter: as clear outsiders," he said.

"But again, anything can happen and if it all goes to plan we can reach the final. First we have to produce some good results in the Bundesliga to give us a boost: with every positive result our Champions League chances improve."

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