Champions League

Schalke focus on Euro task

2014-12-09 13:34
Schalke celebrate (AFP)

Berlin - Schalke are resurgent in the Bundesliga under coach Roberto Di Matteo but in the Champions League on Wednesday they must win and hope for a favour elsewhere to reach the knock-out phase.

Schalke may have won three Bundesliga matches in succession but know nothing less than a victory away to Maribor Wednesday will give them a chance of reaching the Champions League knock-out stage.

Maribor are out of the Champions League but are unbeaten at home in the competition this season and, with third-place and the Europa League spot not beyond them, they are not lacking motivation to win.

Schalke have to balance the threat of being eliminated from Europe altogether with a defeat while pushing for the win which could see them pip Sporting Lisbon to second.

But they also need to hope Sporting lose their match away to Chelsea to open the door.

"I'm not thinking about that," Di Matteo said. "We will look after the game at what the situation is."

Di Matteo has a rich history with Chelsea having won two FA Cups, a League Cup and Cup Winners' Cup there as a player before coaching the team to the Champions League and FA Cup double in 2012.

"My experience from England is that there are no friendly games," he said. "Chelsea will definitely try to win."

Di Matteo made a relatively slow start at Schalke having been appointed in September with performances picking up only slowly.

But a change in system to 3-5-2 has brought explosive victories over Wolfsburg, Mainz and Stuttgart, even if the side did crash to a disastrous 5-0 home loss to Chelsea in the previous Champions League game.

"We invest a lot of time in the new system," defender Jan Kirchhoff said. "The work is beginning to pay off."

Kirchhoff is regularly at the centre of the three-man back line but it is the attack which has grabbed the headlines in the recent run of improved form.

While midfield stars such as Kevin-Prince Boateng and Julian Draxler are out with injury, strikers Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting have kept firing goals.

Modern football has seen a move away from two traditional strikers leading the line up front but the tactic has paid dividends so far.

"We are unpredictable if we have two strikers," Di Matteo said. "That makes us dangerous."

Huntelaar bagged a hat-trick against Mainz two weeks ago to take his scoring record for the club to 101 goals in 158 competitive games. No other Bundesliga striker has found the net as often as the Dutchman in 2014.

And Cameroon international Choupo-Moting, now 25, is finding the consistency that eluded him with previous clubs. He bagged a treble in last Saturday's 4-0 romp at Stuttgart.

"With such a victory in the bag you can be full of confidence for the next game," he said. "Wednesday is very important."


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Tuesday, 13 February 2018
Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur, Allianz Stadium 21:45
Basel v Manchester City, St. Jakob-Park 21:45
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Porto v Liverpool, Estadio Do Dragao 21:45
Real Madrid v PSG, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:45
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
Bayern Munchen v Besiktas, Allianz-Arena 21:45
Chelsea v Barcelona, Stamford Bridge 21:45
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Sevilla v Manchester United, Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:45
Tuesday, 06 March 2018
Liverpool v Porto, Anfield 21:45
PSG v Real Madrid, Parc des Princes 21:45
Wednesday, 07 March 2018
Manchester City v Basel, Etihad Stadium 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Juventus, Wembley Stadium 21:45
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.