David Wagner: We can’t wait to get going

After 48 days of preparation, the Bundesliga season will finally kick off for FC Schalke 04. The Royal Blues’ first game is away against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday (18:30 CEST). “The team is really excited for the first game. We can’t wait to get going,” said David Wagner, who will make his Bundesliga managerial debut at BORUSSIA-Park.

Wagner is fully aware that S04 have a difficult start to the new campaign with the tough trip to face Gladbach followed up by the visit of Bayern next weekend. The 47-year-old was quick to maintain that he wasn’t too worried by the start though: “I only manage what I can control,” he said, before adding, “Every game has its own special appeal, regardless of who are playing. For me, we have to bring our own game onto the pitch against every team, home and away.”

Gladbach with a new style of play

Both sides began 2019/20 with a win in the first round of the DFB-Pokal. While S04 were excellent in a 5-0 win at Regionalliga side SV Drochtersen/Assel, Gladbach saw off Bundesliga 2 outfit SV Sandhausen 1-0.

Wagner and his coaching team have watched footage from that cup game, as well as many other games from last season. “Gladbach have developed a new style of play under Marco Rose, which is shaped by their high tempo. They also have a lot of power up front. It’s an extremely exciting test, which we are really looking forward to.”

Schöpf to play a half for the U23s

The new head coach will still be without several players for tomorrow’s game. “Jonas Carls and Rabbi Matondo haven’t returned to training after their injuries,” he reported. Ozan Kabak will also require a few more days before he can be considered for selection after his foot problem. “He will take part in parts of team training in the next seven to ten days. He won’t be an option for Gladbach or for Bayern,” said Wagner. Nassim Boujellab and Markus Schubert are also absentees for the season opener, with both hopeful of returning to training next week.

It’s not yet clear whether Salif Sané and Suat Serdar will make the Gladbach game. “We will make a final decision on those two after the final training session. All being well, they will make the squad,” confirmed Wagner. Alessandro Schöpf is also expected to play at the weekend – but not in the Bundesliga. “Schöpfi will hopefully play a half for the U23s,” revealed Wagner, who feels that the Austrian’s workload needs to be carefully managed after over six months out injured. Mark Uth will also not be in the squad as his fitness levels and carefully managed.

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