Christian Gross: Putting more pressure on the opponent in order to be successful

The Royal Blues welcome 1. FC Köln to the VELTINS-Arena on Wednesday evening (18:30 CET) to round off the Hinrunde of the 2020/21 season. Head coach Christian Gross and the Schalke team have been working hard following the trip to Frankfurt and are now fully focused on the upcoming task against the Billy Goats.

Christian Gross

“We’ve been over the game against Frankfurt in depth,” reported Gross, who criticized his team for losing the ball too easily and for being too passive against the side from Hesse. “I would have liked us to have put more pressure on them going forward. That’s what we need to do to be successful,” stressed the Swiss coach. However, he was keen to emphasise that they should not dwell on the defeat to the Eagles. “There’s only room for one thing in our minds currently, and that’s the upcoming game against Köln.”

Gross is expecting a clash in which both sides will be willing to take calculated risks. “I don’t think either side will go all-out attack from the beginning. The main focus will be on defence,” predicted Gross, who will be hoping that his team will be able to build on the last home performance against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.

Matthew is progressing very well and a lot of that is down to his ambition.

Christian Gross

Schalke fans will need no reminding of the scoreline on that occasion, with Matthew Hoppe becoming the first American to score a hat-trick in the Bundesliga, followed up by his strike against Frankfurt. “Matthew is progressing very well and a lot of that is down to his ambition,” said Gross of the 19-year-old striker. “He is a player who gives his all for Schalke and will continue to make progress in all aspects of his game.”

Question marks over Sané, Schöpf and Boujellab

The head coach had special praise for Salif Sané, who Gross described as a “really important player.” It is still uncertain whether the centre-back will make the matchday squad against Köln after having missed out recently due to a knee injury. Also doubtful are Alessandro Schöpf and Nassim Boujellab, who were unavailable against Frankfurt due to injury. Things look more positive for Omar Mascarell, however. The Spaniard is back in contention to start, according to Gross, who emphasised the importance of the player being 100% fit in order to “reach his full potential.”

Gross has been satisfied with training over the last few days, with the 66-year-old reporting that the team has been working with motivation and focus. He also stressed that the team should focus only on themselves. “We have sworn to ourselves that things will only go in one direction, and that’s up. We are summoning all of our strength,” said Gross, who also discussed the Bundesliga table ahead of the match against Köln. “It is one of many matches that will determine our fate. We still have some really important fixtures to come – it’s not just tomorrow’s game.”

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