Schalke striker Raul is relishing facing Manchester United's Ryan Giggs in Tuesday evening's (Wednesday morning AEST) UEFA Champions League semi-final as the two veterans, with a combined age of 70, eye another European triumph.
Source:
AFP
25 Apr 2011 - 11:40 AM  UPDATED 16 Apr 2014 - 6:04 AM

Unfancied Schalke has surprised itself by reaching the last four of the Champions League for the first time in its history by knocking out holder Inter Milan in the quarter-finals.

Now the Premier League giant stands in its way of a place in the final at Wembley stadium on 28 May which would be Raul's first appearance at the famous north London ground.

But first the Spaniard's Schalke team must negotiate the two-legged semi-final with the return at Old Trafford on 4 May.

One of the sub-plots of the last-four clash will be the confrontation between veterans Raul, 33, and Giggs, 37.

Between them, the pair have 176 Champions League appearances, 98 goals - of which Raul's 71 are the tournament record - and five winners' medals.

Raul has an enviable record against the three-time European champion, having netted against it four times in three games for Real Madrid.

The striker was the scourge of Inter with a goal in each game of its quarter-final encounters, while Giggs put paid to Chelsea with three fine assists in United's 3-1 aggregate last-eight win.

Raul says he has enormous respect for both evergreen United stars Giggs and 36-year-old Paul Scholes.

"For Giggs to still be playing at this level at 37 years of age is incredible. I would love to swap shirts with Ryan Giggs after the game. It would be a great honour to have that shirt," he said.

Like Giggs, Raul's longevity is impressive.

He has played all 31 of Schalke's Bundesliga games this season, making 44 appearances in all competitions and scoring 18 goals.

He has been a revelation in his first season in Gelsenkirchen after joining Schalke on a free transfer from Real and wants to score against United to help him make that first appearance at Wembley.

"I'd never scored against Bayern Munich and I scored against them in the (German) Cup," he explained.

"I went to San Siro and scored against Inter, which I'd never done. I've never been to Wembley - which is one of the stadiums I'd love to go to."

The reason Raul has been able to play so much this season is he has been relieved of the commercial commitments he had at Real and, like Giggs, has always shunned the showbiz lifestyle.

"Now I don't have to worry about anything else, I can concentrate on getting on with my team-mates, training and playing," he said.