Julian Draxler: From golden boy to Mr. Schalke

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Through Ryu’s Lens: Turkish giants take Germany

The Bundesliga’s stature in world football continues to rise, and Schalke were slight favourites to join Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. But with Burak Yilmaz, Wesley Sneijder, and Didier Drogba leading them forward after a 1-1 draw in Istanbul, Galatasaray rose to the challenge at the Veltins-Arena, clinching an emphatic 3-2 victory on German soil. Ryu was on the scene to catch the Turkish giants sailing into the deep waters that await in the quarterfinals.

Interact with Ryu on twitter @Toksuede and check his Flickr. Posted by Eric.

Felix Magath will strike back!

By Ross Dunbar

Felix Magath’s relationship with VfL Wolfsburg may have recently ended abruptly, but he still threatens to reach the summit of German football once again. He is far from everyone’s cup of tea.

On his CV, there are two Bundesliga triumphs for FC Bayern, a place in the Champions League for VfB Stuttgart and the incredible 2009 championship victory for Wolfsburg. Perception and reality is two completely opposite things; and in Germany, “the dictator’s” reputation is far from glowing at the moment.

But interestingly, Magath has never been this type of character. Indeed, his time as a footballer has almost certainly shaped his managerial credibility as we know it.

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Through Ryu’s Lens: Atsuto Uchida leaves an impression in North London

After an uninspired performance against Norwich City, this Champions League was meant to be a chance for Wenger’s Gunners to bounce back. Instead, Arsenal were there for the taking at the Emirates this evening, and Atsuto Uchida was largely responsible for the men in red’s despair. Ever since Shinji Kagawa left Dortmund for the Theatre of Dreams, Uchida has been continuing the recent tradition of fantastic Japanese midfielders earning merit in the Bundesliga. Uchida took full advantage of André Santos’ futility, “tormenting" the Brazilian left back. Ryu Voelkel was on the touchline to capture Japan’s next great talent, and the upset that wasn’t really an upset.

You can interact with Ryu on twitter @Toksuede and check his Flickr. Posted by EB.

A euro a minute? That’s not football…
During the Europa League quarterfinal match in Germany between Schalke and Athletic Bilbao, the Schalke supporters pulled out their google translate skills to make a banner in Spanish questioning Athletic Bilbao charging traveling Schalke €90 for tickets to the second game in Bilbao.
The banner reads: "A €90 ticket =  1 euro per minute? Football is not telephone sex!”
Well played, Schalke. And unless you’re paying to see the Champions League final, EURO 2012, or the World Cup, that’s a pretty good point.

A euro a minute? That’s not football…

During the Europa League quarterfinal match in Germany between Schalke and Athletic Bilbao, the Schalke supporters pulled out their google translate skills to make a banner in Spanish questioning Athletic Bilbao charging traveling Schalke €90 for tickets to the second game in Bilbao.

The banner reads: "A 90 ticket =  1 euro per minute? Football is not telephone sex!”

Well played, Schalke. And unless you’re paying to see the Champions League final, EURO 2012, or the World Cup, that’s a pretty good point.

What Next For Raúl and Schalke?

By Saheli RC, writing from Singapore

For the laymen and armchair critics, the thought of a player voluntarily leaving a club as big as Real Madrid to ply his trade up north in the cold, hilly regions of North-Rhine Westphalia, indicates two things. One, he’s finished. Two, he’s crazy.

In a constantly evolving world of football, dominated only by the grossly inflated, nominal dollar value, courtesy of clubs like Man City, Real Madrid and Chelsea, where morals and norms shift quicker than the tectonic plates under our feet, remaining at a club for seventeen years is not an easy feat. For Raul Gonzalez, it has been the norm. For his fans, it was the reality.

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Back up your banter with AFR in the Heineken Star Player game, see your club live in the Champions League. Simple.

By Oliver Sparrow, writing from London

I’ve had a chance to play the Heineken Star Player game and although I was pretty abysmal at it, I thought it was a really good laugh. Proving to your mates that you’ve got the best footballing brain whilst watching a live game, instead of just shouting abuse at them down the pub seems more positive all around. Star Player allows you to watch UEFA Champions League matches on television whilst playing it in real-time on a computer, iPhone or iPod touch. How often have you checked your phone or been on the computer whilst watching a game live on TV? At AFR we’re always dual-screening, it just seems to be part of our nature. Well, Star Player takes advantage of that.

We don’t normally do this, but we decided to team up with Heineken on this one to give our awesome readers an exclusive chance to win two tickets to a UEFA Champions League group game of their choice next season.*  To win, all you have to do is enter and come top of our VIP ‘AFR Stars’ league and play the Heineken Star Player game on your iPhone, iPod touch, or on Facebook. Full details below.

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Neuer stars but Manchester United run riot in Gelsenkirchen

By Darshan Joshi, writing from Kuala Lumpur

Schalke 0 Manchester United 2 (Giggs 67, Rooney 69)

Manchester United will surely have only one regret in the build-up to next week’s second leg against Schalke 04 at Old Trafford. They could have easily been five or six goals to the good, and it would have been, if it weren’t for a combination of Manuel Neuer’s brilliance coupled with some lackadaisical finishing from the United players. Still, though, in Gelsenkirchen last night, Manchester United were simply outstanding.

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A club of hard knocks, FC Schalke 04

By Saheli RC, writing from Singapore

Late last year, I wrote a piece on the eccentric, and unpredictable nature of Schalke’s season so far; by this week, that eccentricity has manifested into something so uncanny that it’d have reduced Freud into a five year old in a candy store if he were alive to witness it. While their domestic season has improved considerably – and by that I mean they are out of the relegation zone – they have still produced plenty of shock results which left Felix Magath red-faced and the fans, furious.

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