Dimitrios Grammozis: The boys haven’t had nearly enough
FC Schalke 04 head to SC Paderborn 07 on Sunday at 13:30 CEST. “It’s about getting three points, and that’s what we will set out to do,” said Dimitrios Grammozis, ahead of the trip to fellow North Rhine-Westphalia side at the Benteler-Arena.
Our opponents sit second in the table with eleven points, and are still unbeaten. Schalke’s coach knows all about SCP’s strengths, not only because of their strong start to the season and the confidence that comes with that, but also because he is very familiar with their coach. “Lukas Kwasniok and I completed our football coaching license together,” explained the 43-year-old. “He is doing a really good job. Paderborn have a lot of options offensively.” Though the opposition have started strongly, Grammozis said, “We want to go to Paderborn and play well”.
The Greek-German coach is happy with how his team have progressed over the last few weeks. “Our squad wants to learn and the guys are up for it. In every training session they show that they haven’t had nearly enough,” he praised his team. Moreover, confidence is high after the 3-1 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf. The three points were important not only for their position in the league (Schalke are now in ninth place with seven points), but also had a psychological benefit, explained Grammozis. “Celebrating with the fans after the final whistle was incredible. We really wanted a moment like that and we aren’t going to stop now. We have to keep going!”
Our squad wants to learn and the guys are up for it.
During the international break, the coach and his staff have found a suitable mix of hard work and the recuperation that has to come with it. “We have a six-week plan, and look at when we train and recover in advance,” Grammozis described the schedule of the last two weeks. “Tactically, we have worked with the guys individually and as a group, making use of video coaching and talking to the players a lot. We have also been able to challenge them physically and they have been running at home. I think we put together a good programme.”
Itakura still in contention for the weekend
It remains to be seen, whether Ko Itakura will play any part at the Benteler-Arena. The defender, who recently arrived on loan from Manchester City and who was convincing on his full debut against Fortuna Düsseldorf, has returned from international duty with the Japanese national team with a thigh issue. “He has, however, already been able to take part in training,” clarified Grammozis, adding that the problem was not as bad as originally feared. The 24-year-old is expected to take part in full team training in the final sessions before the trip to Paderborn. “If everything goes well, Ko will be an option for the match.”
The Royal Blues will remain without the captain, Danny Latza, who has been training individually after suffering a knee injury in the season opener against Hamburger SV. Salif Sané is also out as he finishes off a special programme due to knee issues. Blendi Idrizi will also be unavailable. The Kosova international is also suffering from knee problems, which have flared up due to high amounts of strain. “The doctors and physios are working with Blendi every day, but at the moment I can’t give a prognosis as to when he will return to the pitch,” said the head coach.