Christian Gross: We’ll have to be performing at our maximum level
In a clash of Swiss coaches, Christian Gross will be aiming to take all three points off his compatriot Urs Fischer as Schalke travel to the capital to take on 1. FC Union Berlin on Saturday (18:30 CET). Gross made it clear at Friday’s pre-match press conference that he is expecting a hard-fought match at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
“We’ll have to be performing at our maximum level to be successful,” emphasised Gross, who made clear his high opinion of fellow Swiss coach Urs Fischer and his team. He continued on to say that it would be wrong to assume that Union’s strengths lie only in their physicality and set pieces. “I know that Urs Fischer has been working hard to ensure his team stays compact and that they defend and attack as a unit. That stability is one of the main things that distinguishes the Union team.”
We have to stay switched on.
It will be key to stay focused when defending set pieces, no matter if you are defending zonally or man-marking continued S04’s coach. “The decisive factor is whether you can really defend. We have to stay switched on.”
Coach explains Bentaleb return
The head coach discussed a good week in training in which Nabil Bentaleb returned to the fold after having trained alone in recent weeks. Gross outlined the reasons behind Bentaleb’s return to full-team training: “I’m not concerned by what’s gone on with Bentaleb. We have no previous and he is a good footballer. His reintegration has gone well this first week. It’s now up to Nabil to force his way in.” The Swiss isn’t ruling out an appearance in the capital. “Nabil is happy to be back. He has worked hard and will be in the squad.”
The Royal Blues will have to do without Mark Uth this weekend. The forward picked up a muscle injury in his right thigh against RB Leipzig and will be out of action for the time being. Also out are Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (calf issue) and Salif Sané (returning to training after a knee complaint) alongside Schalke’s other. Long-term absentees. Gross gave an update on Steven Skrzybski, with the 28-year-old on the road to recovery. “Steven has done some recovery work in Berlin recently. He is now working with his personal rehab coach in Mönchengladbach and will be back with us in ten days or so.”
Timo Becker stands on the cusp of a return. The defender, who had to miss the game against RB Leipzig, has overcome his thigh problem and will be an option again for the game in Berlin. The same goes for Suat Serdar, who has gotten over an illness.