Christian Gross: The team continues to believe in our goal

FC Schalke 04 kick off the second half of the season by welcoming league leaders FC Bayern Munich to the VELTINS-Arena on Sunday (15:30 CET). Klaas-Jan Huntelaar could make his debut against the champions following his return to Gelsenkirchen earlier this month. In addition, head coach Christian Gross reported that Sead Kolasinac is also looking in good shape for Sunday’s clash after the Bosnian had to be taken off with a knock against 1. FC Köln.

Christian Gross

One player definitely out for the game is Goncalo Paciencia. The Portuguese forward underwent an operation on his left knee followed by a rehabilitation programme in his home country, but has now returned to Gelsenkirchen. “He’s well on his way in terms of recovery is currently in individual training. I think that he should be able to join up with full team training in four to six weeks from now,” said Gross. Salif Sané is on the fence for the clash with FCB. The centre-back, who has had several knee problems lately, is currently undergoing a special training programme. “Salif is working unbelievably hard and is determined to return and help the team. But in order to do that, he must be 100% match fit,” explained the Royal Blues’ coach.

We have to show that we can defend as a team, whilst also taking our chances at the other end of the pitch.

Christian Gross

Newly returned from injury is Alessandro Schöpf, after recovering from his thigh problem. “He’s back in contention again,” confirmed Gross. The same goes for returnee Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who missed the game against Köln with a calf problem. “He’s making good progress and getting stronger every day. Klaas-Jan should be part of the squad against Bayern, he’s definitely a good option to have on the bench,” continued the Schalke coach, who went on to express his relief that Sead Kolasinac had not picked up a more serious injury on Wednesday. “He’s looking good, much better than we initially assumed after the final whistle,” reported Gross.

Learning from mistakes

The Swiss has been over the 2-1 defeat to Köln together with the team. “We made too many mistakes and we cannot allow that to happen again against Bayern Munich,” he emphasised. Gross held off naming and shaming particular players however, because “we win together, and we lose together. I will always stick up for the players and express any criticisms internally.”

Despite the final scoreline, not everything about Wednesday’s game was negative, said the 66-year-old. “We had our chances. The boys are pushing up much more compared to how they were playing in the autumn of last year. We have to show that we can defend as a team, whilst also taking our chances at the other end of the pitch. Every game has its own unique storyline,” said Gross.

The score last time the Royal Blues faced the champions has not played a major role in the preparations for the return fixture. “It’s a new game,” explained Gross. At the same time, the coach emphasised that he and the team have their sights set firmly on staying up this season, despite S04’s current league position. “I always think positively and find it difficult to deal with pessimists. You always have opportunities in football, and the team continues to firmly believe in our collective goal. We’re know it’s going to be tough, but we are convinced we can achieve it together,” concluded Gross.

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