Preamble Hello. Impossible is nothing, according to adidas. Try telling that to adidas's Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso, part of the Internazionale team who have approximately a 0.0000000000001 per cent chance of overturning the 5-2 deficit from last week's jaw-dropping first leg.
There is nothing in sport quite like seeing the champ go down. That has certainly been true of the European Cup, where the champions have invariably gone out amid the highest drama – right up to last season, when Jose Mourinho gleefully vaccinated Barcelona in their own bedroom.
Tonight, in all probability, Inter – and it's easy to forget that they are the reigning champions, as they have been such a mess for much of the season – will go out with a whimper, maybe even with a win. But, unless Schalke get the full-on yips or, worse still, a dose of the Costanzas, it's impossible to see Inter getting the four-goal win they need to stay in the competition.
So, to summarise:
this game is dodo-dead and you're better off doing something more useful and rewarding on what is a pretty pleasant spring evening; maybe you could go to a beer garden, or buy some toenail clippers, or see if you can get high by sniffing envelopes anything can happen, the game's still up for grabs, and please keep pressing F5. Please.
The greatest comeback in European history did occur in Germany. You haven't heard the story? [Brent] Pull up a pew [/Brent]. In the quarter-finals of the 1985-86 Cup Winners' Cup, Dynamo Dresden won the first leg 2-0 at home to Bayer Uerdingen. In the second leg, which is on the video, Dresden led 3-1 at half time, which made it 5-1 on aggregate. That meant, because of the away goal, Uerdingen needed to score five in the second half to go through. So they scored five – and then they scored one more for the road, winning 7-3 on the night and 7-5 on aggregate. And against an East German team as well. Oh to have been a housewife in Uerdingen on the night of 19 March 1986, as hordes of drunken, delirious husbands returned home wanting to spread some love, eh? Eh? Hello?
Cultural vandalism department I know I'm a bit late on this one, but what the hell is this nonsense? Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple? What next? Colin Farrell as Poirot? Justin Bieber as Columbo?
Schalke (4-4-2) 1-Manuel Neuer; 22-Atsuto Uchida, 21-Christoph Metzelder, 4-Benedikt Howedes, 2-Hans Sarpei; 11-Alexander Baumjohann, 32-Joel Matip, 14-Kyriakos Papadopoulos, 18-Jose Jurado; 9-Edu, 7-Raul.
Inter Milan (4-3-1-2) 1-Julio Cesar; 13-Maicon, 6-Lucio, 15-Andrea Ranocchia, 55-Yuto Nagatomo; 5-Dejan Stankovic, 8-Thiago Motta, 4-Javier Zanetti; 10-Wesley Sneijder; 9-Samuel Eto'o, 22-Diego Milito.
Referee Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
There's a belting atmosphere in Gelsenkirchen, as there usually is at German grounds. They have football sussed, don't they? It helps that Schalke are on the cusp of their first-ever European Cup semi-final. The winners, of course, will play Manchester United in the semi-final, with the first leg at their place and the second in Manchester.
1 min Inter, in white, kick off from left to right. Schalke are in a nice rich blue.
2 min "Looking out over the Indian Ocean from Durban beach," says Keith Hart. Or, to translate, Keith Hart 1-0 Rob Smyth. "I am interested in this game for two reasons. Schalke must be very good and, as a Man U supporter, I remember Leverkusen and Bayern. In fact, I think the final will be Schalke v Real Madrid. the other reason is the Inter came back big away at Bayern. So this is an much more interesting game than the one in London."
3 min A pretty slow start, with Inter having most of the ball. It's hard, as Garry Birtles points out on Sky, to know how Schalke will or should play this. There isn't exactly a big book of precedents when it comes to defending a 5-2 first-leg win away from home.
4 min "Where the hell have you been?" says Zach Neeley. "A world of jilted MBM readers wants to know. That and if Schalke have any chance at winning it all." I can't even remember my last MBM. I think it was Luton 1-3 Manchester United in November 1989, but I've gone a bit doddery of late.
5 min A beautiful strike from Sneijder, 30 yards out, is straight at Neuer. As he looks to roll the ball out, Stankovic runs into him from the side, an amusingly retro piece of oafishness. Neuer goes flying and gets off with the radge on; Stankovic, surprisingly, is not booked.
7 min A delicious pass from the left-back Sarpei, driven flat over 40 yards or so, is killed expertly by Raul at the corner of the area, but he is then crowded out.
8 min Schalke have settled down now after a cautious first few minutes. Inter aren't particularly on their game, and at this stage there is no sense that a storm is coming.
9 min "Even though I'm at work and have many, many more interesting and salient things I should be doing I'm with you, holding out for Inter to strike quickly and expose Schalke as interlopers in the Big Cup scene and take them apart with tiki-taka," says Gerry McManus. "Or I could go back to work and be less bored."
10 min Christoph Metzelder, the Schalke centre back, is playing with a Phantom of the Opera-styler ask. Do Fifa allow all types of masks? What would happy if somebody emerged jauntily from the tunnel wearing a gimp mask? They could argue they are dermatophobic. Or something.
12 min Sneijder's firmly hit cross from the left is desperately cleared at the second attempt by Howedes on the six-yard line.
14 min "I am at work here on the east coast of the US implementing Change Requests into a Requirements document and listening to Soft Cell while keeping half an eye on your MBM," says Brian Russell. "I have a hunch that Rooney will get sent off when Man Utd play Schalke in the semi-finals."
15 min Nothing is really happening. Three dead rubbers in four quarter finals in both the European Cup and the Uefa Cup, eh? It's not a good advert for knockout football. If we're not careful Uefa will bring back the second group stage, and add a third, and maybe a fourth.
16 min Seriously, though, how do you lose a first leg 5-2 at home?
17 min A nice effort from Raul. Jurado clipped over a cross from the left towards Raul, who had lost his man 15 yards from goal. He had to take the header first time, and tried to steer it into the far corner, but he didn't get enough on it and Julio Cesar plunged to his left to make a routine save.
18 min More nice play from Raul. He zig-zagged infield from the right, running at Nagatomo. Eventually he tried to twist Nagatomo's blood one last time but ended up twisting his own legs and falling over.
19 min This is a good spell for Schalke, and Ranocchia cleans out the marching Papadopoulos 22 yards from goal. He'd have been booked for that in England, but not here. The free-kick comes to nothing.
21 min "After your extended cricket coverage, how are you going to cope with such a short game tonight?" says Robin Hazlehurst. "You'll be barely warmed up by the final whistle, even after penalties. I have a sorry vision of you sat at your keyboard at 3am tonight waiting for the players to re-emerge after tea. Good luck readjusting."
22 min I'd forgotten Eto'o was on the pitch, but he reminds me with a run from the left and a shot that is deflected wide for a corner.
23 min There's a bit of nascent niggle in this game, which is good to see. Maybe Inter will go out with a bang, with a mass brawl.
24 min A series of Inter corners come to nothing. This isn't much of a game. Schalke look a decent, organised team, but you would certainly take them in the semi-finals, especially when the alternative is Barcelona and Real Madrid.
26 min So, anyone got anything to talk about?
28 min A lovely, impromptu burst from Jurado, past a couple players on the edge of the box, results in a low shot that is well blocked by Lucio.
30 min Lucio is on one and no mistake. He starts shouting at everyone: first Raul, then one of the Schalke staff, and finally the referee. He keeps flapping his gums, so the referee decides to book him. Why not, eh? Lucio must be particularly hacked off, having missed last week's game and watched Inter defend like total eejits in his absence.
32 min "Considering that Hugh Laurie was primarily a comic actor in the UK, what's everyone over there think of him playing this misanthropic doctor in House MD?" says Ted Lee. "And does that scupper his chances of getting cast in a Blackadder reunion show?" I haven't watched or read much about it, but I think basically everyone in the entire country loves House, right?
33 min "This game is so dull surely the head honchos at the Guardian will let you MBM on something else," says Liam Moseley. "I suggest 'Bellies and Bullseyes' which is currently on ESPN Classic. Looks like it could be a laugh." I do think we should do some maverick MBMs. Scott Murray has done Countdown or Deal or No Deal; I fancy MBMing an episode of Murder, She Wrote, every single episode of Eldorado back to back, and old episodes of The Word.
36 min Inter have had 57 per cent of possession, but I'd say Schalke have carried the marginally greater threat. Saying which, that's a fine save from Neuer. Stankovic picked up a loose ball 25 yards out and thrashed it angrily towards goal. He hit that like he wanted to kill it. It was arrowing towards the top corner, and Neuer dived to his right to beat it away for a corner with his right hand.
39 min Great play from Inter almost produces the first goal. Stankovic took a short free-kick 40 yards out and clipped a disguised pass over the right side of the defence for the onrushing Maicon, who stretched out his right foot but could only guide the ball wide of the post. He was under pressure from Neuer, so it wasn't a clear chance. But it was a good one.
41 min Schalke aren't exactly on the ropes, but this is Inter's best spell by a distance and Raul is booked for a foul on Sneijder. I'm not sure he did a lot, although he, like Lucio, has been annoying the referee for much of the first half so there was a certain inevitability to that. "Re. Ted Lee @ 32 minutes Rob; most of my American friends over here have no idea about Hugh Laurie's past UK work," says Andy Wood. "Half of them didn't even realize he wasn't American til I showed them clips of Blackadder. It seems its easier for a Brit actor to pass him/herself off as American than vice-versa." Next you'll be telling me Don Cheadle isn't English.
43 min "Want an inspired pun in German?" says Oliver Driesen. "A very young back four, such as Schalke fielded in the first leg without Metzelder, is called a 'Kinder Riegel' (Kinder bar). I mean, just because nothing's happening."
GOAL! Schalke 1-0 Inter (Raul 45) Ah, this is a charming goal. Jurado, who has been the best player on the pitch, slips Raul through on goal with a cute pass, and he moves smoothly around Julio Cesar with his first touch before sliding the ball in to the empty net. That was such a lovely goal, clean and slick in its creation and execution. Raul's movement was lovely, too, a jerk to the left and then a sharp movement to the right to lose his man. That movement made Jurado's pass a relatively simple one, but the timing and weight of it were immaculate. He's got a left foot to die for, darling.
Half time: Schalke 1-0 Inter (aggregate: 6-2) Inter are not going to go quietly. Eto'o tries to pick a fight on the way off, and lovers of football ultraviolence might get some kicks out of the second half.
46 min Inter have made a half-time substitution, bringing on Goran Pandev for Dejan Stankovic. That presumably means a switch to 4-2-3-1. They could switch to 4-2-3-3 and they'd still struggle to turn this round.
47 min Inter have started the second half as they ended the first: in a
filthy mood. If there isn't at least one Inter red card in this half, I'll eat my cat.
48 min "I, too, am horrified at the thought of Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple," says Nikki. "The whole point of Miss Marple is that she is a little old lady and little old ladies are always overlooked and no one pays attention to them. I doubt Jennifer Garner will play the character in that same fashion and she will be the most glamorous Miss Marple the world has ever seen. To make this vaguely about footy, now that I think about it, Mourinho does have the same pompous qualities of Poirot..."
THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT! Schalke 1-1 Inter (Motta 49) A simple goal for Inter. Sneijder's deep corner from the right is headed down by Lucio and helped over the line by Motta. He charges into the net to pick up the ball, but it's all for show really. They need four more to go through.
51 min "Billy From Neighbours - he's one of the main characters in House," says Thomas Jenkins. "Surely his continued employment as a man of showbiz is a better reason to celebrate the existence of that show than the successes of Our Hugh? That guy had a pet sheep." I now want to know what Todd from Neighbours is doing. He was such a cutie. A true blue.
53 min Julio Cesar dashes unnecessarily from his line towards the corner of the box to meet Baumjohann. The ball runs loose to the right, but Baumjohann fails to get the necessary elevation on his clipped cross and the backpedalling Cesar is able to claim.
56 min "I challenge my fellow MBM readers to play the Kevin Bacon game with today's match and this picture," says Zach Neeley. "And myself to get a life."
57 min Papadopoulos wastes a decent chance, heading Baumjohann's precise cross over the top from 12 yards.
58 min Motta takes a yellow card with a brazen and cynical foul on Matip just past the halfway line. He will miss the first leg of the semi-final if Inter score 74 goals in the next half an hour.
60 min Howedes has a goal disallowed. Raul took a short corner on the right to Jurado, whose deep cross was flicked down by Papadopoulos. Howedes welted it gleefully into the roof of the net and wheeled away like a man who had found a cure for misery, but he was fractionally offside.
62 min "Last year's Eurovision Blog was a particular favourite," says Phil Booth, "mainly for the cutting comments BTL. Nowt to say on the game as am watching t'other side, but I have just had a creme egg – anyone else enjoying nostalgic confectionery tonight?"
63 min A decent chance for Eto'o, who heads over from eight yards, albeit under extreme pressure from the right back Uchida.
65 min Another chance for Schalke. An excellent outswinging corner from the right, from Baumjohann I think, is headed over from 10 yards by the onrushing Matip. I haven't seen Schalke since the opening day of the season, when they were rubbish against Hamburg, but they have been impressive tonight, particularly on the counter attack. It's a natural assumption to think that Manchester United have a bye – this is England, after all – but it's also a bloody foolish one.
66 min Papadopoulos is harshly booked for a sliding tackle on the goalkeeper Cesar, who decided to clear with his feet. Maicon charged in and pushed his head right against Papadopoulos's, shouting right in his ear. One of them must be sent off here, surely. They are in a vile mood.
68 min Classy stuff from Milito, who makes a chance from nowhere by stabbing Eto'o's pass up in the air and then spinning to volley over the bar from the edge of the box. It was well over the top but the improvisation was lovely.
69 min "To make this very vaguely about football," says Phil Podolsky, "Schalke have inconweenienced Inter, have they not?" Mourinho as a suave version of Lord Flashheart? Mourinho should play everyone, basically. I'd love to see his 'interpretation' of Phil Mitchell.
70 min The camera cuts to the crowd, where a Deirdre Barlow lookalike with a Schalke scarf leaps to his feet and gives someone on the field an almighty rollocking. That was hilarious. You had to be there, I suppose. She looked incredibly aggrieved. Imagine if they were only 6-4 up on aggregate.
72 min A Schalke substitution, with the 17-year-old Julian Draxler – now that's a name – replacing the impressive Alexander Baumjohann.
75 min Sneijder, in the inside left position, whips a gorgeous free kick a fraction wide of the near post from 25 yards. Neuer scrambled desperately across his goal, clearly panicking, but it just shaved the side netting.
76 min "Would the other three semi-finalists' financial positions allow them to play in the Bundesliga?" says Gary Naylor. "I think not. If so, it's a measure of Schalke's achievement and they're the club I'll want to see lift the Big Cup." Can't argue with that. The Bundesliga is fantastic. In terms of finding a balance between quality, competitiveness, attacking football, financial fair play and atmosphere, it's easily the best league in Europe.
77 min Another Schalke substitution. Angelos Charisteas, the matchwinner in the Euro 2004 final, replaces Edu.
78 min Nothing is really happening. I just want one of the Inter players to kick off in the comedy style in the last 12 minutes. I'm easily pleased. I'm not a complex man.
80 min "Is it possible that we underestimate the German teams because they come from less well known cities?" says Robin Hazlehurst. "Places like Madrid and Barcelona, Milan, Turin and Rome, even Paris and Marseilles are big on a map and people have heard of them, like London and Manchester, so it is logical that their teams should be powerful and scary. But German teams come from Gelsenkirchen, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg which are a bit anonymous, so not intimidating, while big cities like Berlin and Hamburg don't do much in European football. Bayern Munich is the only combination of big city and big team." It could be that. Or it could be that we're arrogant, complacent, English idiots. I'm not sure.
81 min Coutinho replaces Wesley Sneijder, who has been tantalisingly on the periphery of the match.
GOAL! Schalke 2-1 Inter (Howedes 82) What a beautiful way for Schalke to confirm their total superiority. The centre back Howedes, who had a goal disallowed earlier in the half, decides he might as well score another. He laid the ball off on the halfway line and kept running; Raul scooped a sensational pass right over the top of the Inter defence and Howedes, galumphing on to the ball, simply leathered it first time past Cesar. Then he went off on a long aeroplane run, a big dumb grin plastered all over his face. Wonderful, heartwarming stuff.
84 min "When was the last time the Champions of Europe got so comprehensively dicked and put out of the competition?" asks Adam Hirst. "No group stages allowed." Goodness knows. Never, probably. Villa were thrashed by Juventus in 1982 but that was only 5-2 on aggregate, I think. Who put Steaua out in 1986-87?
86 min Lukas Schmitz replaces the excellent Jurado and is instantly booked, a soft yellow card for a foul on Maicon.
89 min Motta is perhaps a little lucky to avoid a second yellow card for a foul on Draxler. He came in at the same time with Ranochhia, who was booked, but I think Motta was the one who fouled him.
90 min On the evidence of this game, Schalke are better than we – well, okay, I – thought. They're a very handy side: compact, purposeful and very good on the counter attack. Raul looks reinvigorated, Jurado is a class act, Neuer is excellent, and they have some decent players to come back into the side. It'll be a good semi-final.
FULL TIME: Schalke 2-1 Internazionale (aggregate: 7-3) That's it. Schalke move into their first ever European Cup semi-final with a crushing victory over the champions. It's a lovely story for so many reasons – one of them the renaissance of Raul, who played beautifully tonight and was heavily involved in two excellent goals. This mob will give Manchester United a serious game in the semi-finals. Thanks for your emails; night.