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Schalke's Raul eyes 'dream' United win

Raul admits it would be a "dream" to beat Manchester United for a third time in his career, as he prepares to line up for Schalke against the three-time European champions in this season's Champions League semi-finals.

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The former Real Madrid striker has twice vanquished United in the competition, scoring twice in Real's 3-2 triumph at Old Trafford in the 2000 quarter-finals and then bagging another brace in Los Blancos' 3-1 quarter-final first leg victory at the Bernabeu in 2003.

This time, though, Raul does not have the creativity of the likes of Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane to rely on and will very much on the side of the underdogs when Schalke line up against United at the Veltins-Arena on Tuesday.

"We dream of beating United," Raul said. "Let's see if we're the better team. Logic says United will be - but we'll try.''

Should Schalke pull off a shock, as they did when disposing of reigning champions Inter Milan in the quarter-finals, a final against either Barcelona or Real Madrid would await the Bundesliga side.

And the prospect of a Wembley outing against Real, the club at which Raul spent the first 18 years of his career, is a mouthwatering one for the former Spain international.

"I don't know [what I'd think] right now," Raul said. "I can't find the words. If it happens, it would be more than special. We didn't expect to get here so we're satisfied. Now we want a little more: we don't know when the chance will present itself again.

"A final would be even more incredible. I hope it's Madrid.....well, I don't know actually. It would be strange. Very strange. If you can guarantee that we'll win the final, maybe it would even be better to play Barcelona. If not, Madrid. Let's see what destiny has in store.''

Raul may have netted four goals against United in his career, but he could have been scoring for them this season had a summer move materialised last summer. The forward revealed that there was serious interest from the current Premier League leaders.

"There were a couple of possibilities and United was one but the only person who knows just how close, is (Sir) Alex Ferguson. I never spoke to him personally but there were contacts with United. Before deciding to come to SchaIke thought about England, where I had a couple of offers.

"I love the footballing culture there, the respect for the game, the atmosphere, the intensity. I've been at Old Trafford, Arsenal, at Liverpool watching Fernando Morientes and it's special. I fancied the idea. I wanted to try something different. But I've been able to experience that here.''

Raul also expressed his admiration for United stalwart Ryan Giggs, saying: "He's a great professional who looks after himself. Giggs and (Paul Scholes) are players for whom I have an enormous admiration. I would love to swap shirts with Ryan Giggs after the game. It would be a great honour.''


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