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Raul: Athletic Bilbao have won the hearts of football fans

The 34-year-old has heaped praise on the Basque club, and insisted that he has made no decision over his future yet because he wants to focus on matters on the pitch

Schalke forward Raul has praised Athletic Bilbao for capturing the hearts of the footballing public following their exploits in Europe this season.

Although their league form has dipped recently, the Basque side have booked their place in the Copa Del Rey final, and are on the verge of qualifying for the Europa League semi-finals.

The 34-year-old has now hailed their acheivements, and believes that Marcelo Bielsa's side deserve the affection they have been getting.

"They're in the cup final, and have the chance to get into the semi-finals of the Europa League," Raul said in his press conference.

"They've have won the hearts of fans who love good football."
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5/6
Athletic Bilbao are 5/6 with Paddy Power to beat Schalke in Thursday's Europa League match.

Having lost the first leg 4-2, Schalke will face off with Bilbao in the return clash at San Mames, and Raul has insisted that he is not concerned about the reception he will receive, and only wants to savour the occasion.

"I want everyone to to enjoy tomorrow. If I'm cheered, then great, but it's not what I want.

"It may be my last visit to San Mames - I just want to enjoy the 90 minutes. I want there to be 120 minutes, though, that would be a good sign!"
 
The Real Madrid legend went on to state that his side still retain hope of going through to the last four of the Europa League, despite the heavy deficit from Gelsenkirchen.

"We know that Athletic will go for it, and that we have to score three goals. We'll also go for the win.

Raul's current deal with Schalke expires at season's end, and despite conceding that the club have made an attractive offer to retain his services, he admitted that he has yet to make up his mind.

"Schalke have offered me a good deal and I'll decide in the coming weeks. But we're in a crucial part of the season - for now I want to focus on football."

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