Christian Gross: Be more dangerous without losing our balance

For the 158th time in all competitions, FC Schalke 04 will take Borussia Dortmund on Saturday (20/2, 18:30 CET). This will be the first Revierderby for head coach Christian Gross, although the 66-year-old has experienced a number of derbies during his lengthy managerial career. “I’ve mostly won them,” said Gross with a smile on his face, and he would gladly add a Revierderby victory to his CV this weekend.

Christian Gross

“They are always special games between two big rivals,” stated Gross, who knows the importance of the Revierderby. At the same time, the S04 head coach believes this clash is extremely vital due to the current state of the table. “We are more desperate for the points than Dortmund so that we can avoid relegation, so it’s a match with a lot riding on it.” One way of inspiring the Schalke players will be to show them some videos, although “they already know what tomorrow’s about,” stressed Gross.

Our players know what tomorrow’s about.

Christian Gross

For Gross, a determined and clever performance will be key if the Royal Blues are to secure a derby win. Since taking charge, the Swiss believes he has overseen an improvement in his side’s attacking capabilities, with Schalke putting more pressure on offensively. However, the Knappen need to create more chances, something they struggled to do last time out away at Union Berlin. “We’ve studied attacking situations this week which will hopefully lead to some success”, reported Gross, who warned that S04 cannot walk right into BVB’s trap. “Just like always, we need to find a balance. On the one hand, we need the points and need to attack, but on the other, we can’t neglect the defensive side of the game.”

Special fan initiative

The midfielders should help to give Schalke more of a threat in the final third. “I expect the wide midfielders to get shots away more often,” demanded Gross, who is hoping his side’s attacking tactics will be hard to predict.

The injury list for the derby is fairly long for Gross and his coaching team. Matija Nastasic and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (calf), Frederik Rönnow (groin/adductor) and Mark Uth (thigh) are all unavailable, as well as long-term injury absentees Goncalo Paciencia, Steven Skrzybski, Kilian Ludewig and Salif Sané. Another big miss in the VELTINS-Arena will be the home fans, especially for this game. “Fans are always a part of derbies normally,” said Gross, who also knows that the Royal Blue fans will be cheering the team on loudly from home. The fans have come up with a special initiative for this Revierderby. More than hundreds of t-shirts have been placed on the seats in the arena to show support for the team. “This shows the bond between the fans and this club – they are always there with you. The players are really happy that the fans are right behind them,” commented Gross.

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