Dimitrios Grammozis: We’re coming up against a strong team – but we’re strong too

In a clash between two Bundesliga sides from last season, FC Schalke 04 will travel to face SV Werder Bremen at 20:30 CET on Saturday night (20/11). “We’re coming up against a strong team – but we’re strong too,” said head coach Dimitrios Grammozis, who added that alongside the quality of both teams, it will also come down to the performances on the day.

Dimitrios Grammozis

The two clubs are separated by three points and three places in the table, with S04 sat on 22 points in fifth and SVW on 19 points in eighth. However, Werder’s form has improved recently. Head coach Markus Anfang, who played five competitive games for Schalke in 1997/98, has guided them to a 2-1 win over 1. FC Nürnberg and a 1-1 draw against league leaders FC St. Pauli recently. Schalke, on the other hand, have suffered back-to-back defeats against 1. FC Heidenheim (1-0) and SV Darmstadt 98 (4-2) after previously enjoying a four-match winning streak.

The last match against Darmstadt in particular didn’t please Grammozis. “We made too many individual mistakes and they took advantage of that. We weren’t compact enough and lacked control of the game,” explained the S04 coach. “On top of that, we need to be better in the final third to create chances and do what we had done well in previous games when we were successful”.

S04 coach happy with the last two weeks of training

The Schalke players have reportedly put the disappointment from the recent results behind them. According to Grammozis, the focus quickly turned to the future after that aforementioned 4-2 loss. The Royal Blues used the international break to work on both the physical and footballing side of their game. “We trained a lot and we worked hard,” revealed Grammozis. “That’s the basis for this weekend.” The 43-year-old was also satisfied with the results from various fitness tests and the commitment over the last week or so. “The data shows that the lads have taken a step in the right direction.” The final sessions before the trip up north will involve fine tuning the team’s tactics and play.

Werder will be well up for it, but so will we be!

Dimitrios Grammozis

Grammozis and his coaching team have thoroughly analysed Saturday’s opponents: “Markus Anfang has changed their system for the last two games. Werder now play with two strikers in Niclas Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch. They have also adjusted their tactics – they now look to get the ball forward to their strikers quickly and more directly,” stated Grammozis. “We want to play our own game and won’t be scared of them. Werder will be well up for it, but so will we be!”

Almost all of the squad available

Salif Sané won’t be travelling to Bremen with the rest of the squad. The Senegalese defender, who made his return from a long-term knee issue in the dying stages against Darmstadt, now has a muscular problem in his hamstring, picked up during a lunge in training. The other absentee is Michael Langer, with the goalkeeper still recovering from tearing his ACL. “Otherwise, all other players are available,” said Grammozis. It won’t be easy to select his starting XI, he acknowledged: “Every player in the squad naturally wants to play.”

Of the six players that were away on international duty, Ko Itakura had the longest journey back to Gelsenkirchen. “Despite all that travelling, he’s impressed me and looked fresh,” commented the coach. The defender didn’t appear in either of Japan’s World Cup qualifiers over the break.

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