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Man Utd, Schalke favourites for Europa League glory

Manchester United and Schalke are regarded as favourites for the Europa League this season.

While United will meet Anderlecht in the first-leg of their quarterfinal tonight, Schalke face the tricky test of facing Ajax.

The Manchester United v Schalke betting odds are very competitive ahead of tonight's first-leg being staged tonight across Europe.

The weekend's 4-1 win over Wolfsburg will have buoyed Schalke ahead of the game. But in making their way to the last eight of the Europa League, they have been a little inconsistent. They have drawn their last three games in the competition.

Schalke, like Ajax, have a 20-year itch to scratch. Back in 1997, when Ajax were semi-finalists in the European Cup, Schalke were on their way to triumph in what was then the Uefa Cup, winners on penalties against a star-studded Inter Milan.

The mix of experience, including the likes of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Benedikt Howedes, and youthful talent, such as Leon Goretzka, ought to be a blend powerful enough to push into the top four of the German league and indeed the Europa League.

But Huntelaar, approaching the end of his seven years at Schalke, acknowledges that he has known better times there.

"Where we used to be in the Champions League, we are now in the Europa," he said.

It's a special tie for the Dutchman.

"It is a bittersweet game for me because Ajax and Schalke are the clubs where I have spent the longest times in my career," Huntelaar said. "So I really want to play.

"From what I hear, Ajax feel very positive about the tie."

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Paul Vegas

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