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The tale of two talismans


Heldt hails Schalke's campaign

Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt claims he is proud of the side's performances in the Champions League, despite their capitulation against Manchester United.

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Schalke lost 6-1 on aggregate to the Premier League leaders on Wednesday night, but after beating the likes of Inter Milan, Lyon and Valencia on the way to the semi-finals, Heldt believes there are many positives to take.

"We've played a superb Champions League season," he told Sky Germany. "It included a historical victory against Inter [in the quarter-finals] which people will talk about in the subsequent years. If you're in the semis, of course, you want to reach the final. Of course, we're disappointed.

"People say that they played with their B team, but they were still first class. We couldn't stand them but that was also the situation in the first-leg. We deserved to be beaten.

"Our opponents were just too strong for us. Some players didn't realise what kind of situation we were in. Man United can handle the pressure better.

"If you look at their so-called second XI, Manchester United's quality stands out with Dimitar Berbatov, Anderson and their central defenders. It shows that they are at an exceptional level. Most Bundesliga sides would be happy with that quality, possibly with the exception of Bayern Munich.

"It is difficult to predict the final. You see the quality of Barcelona. They have set the standard in Europe. But the final is at Wembley so that might give a slight advantage to United.''

However, Heldt claimed he would be watching the current crop of players and how they reacted to the defeat: "I hope that the team are not just content with the fact that we reached the semis. I will have a clear look on how the players will react. It's not so often that you reach the Champions League semis."

Schalke defender Benedikt Howedes said that his side were beaten by the better team.

"We played a great Champions League season," he told Sky Germany. "In the last two matches you could see that Man United were better and deserved to reach the final.

"Man United were more active than [quarter-final opponents] Inter. They switched much more quickly. Inter let us combine a lot more, Man United defended with ten men and attacked with ten men very quickly - that made them very strong.

"I'm looking forward to the final between Barcelona and Manchester [United]. We would have liked to be there, for sure, but these teams deserve to be there. They're the best teams in Europe."


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