Manchester United Vs. Schalke 04, UEFA Champions League: Wingers The Key - The Busby Babe

Jefferson Farfan is arguably Schalke 04's best player, and Alex Ferguson is likely to start Park Ji-Sung, as he always does in the UEFA Champions League, to counter him. To even casual followers of the Champions League, this might sound like a bit of a "no duh" sentence. Farfan has been brilliant in Europe all year, and Park is a fixture in Manchester United's Champions League ties. However, as SB Nation's Manchester United blog The Busby Babe points out, there's a lot more to the battle on the flanks than just Park vs. Farfan.

Over at TBB, Gene discusses Schalke's fullbacks, among other things in the build-up to the Champions League semi-final tie between the two teams, and gets into exactly what's going to happen between all of the wide players, both the wingers and fullbacks, for Schalke and Manchester United.

Schalke's full-backs love to get forward and provide support in attack. The goal is, especially against teams that play in a narrow shape, to fly forward in support of a winger and overrun the opposition with 2 v 1 situations on the flanks. Schalke's wide attacking players tend to drift inward and this often provides space for overlapping runs by their supporting full-backs. Luckily for United, they have two wingers who are exceptional at combatting this potential problem. Park is terrific as a "defensive attacker" and he will need to effectively track back and contain Uchida's forward runs on his side. Valencia can nullify an attacking full-back by simply pinning them back. If Nani, who isn't as consistent at tracking back to defend as Park or Valencia are, plays out wide for United, then Nani and his counterpart will both likely have space to run onto. In that scenario, it's whoever proves to be a bigger threat that will win that battle.

The battle on both sides should be interesting, but in particular, the Farfan and Uchida vs. Park and Evra battle could be fantastic, if the team selections cause that battle to happen. However, this is Alex Ferguson, after all, and the best way to predict the lineup he's going to play is to blindfold yourself and throw darts towards pictures of the players on United's roster.

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