David Wagner: It couldn’t be cooler
After a fourth away win of the season last weekend at Werder Bremen, FC Schalke 04 will now be hoping to secure all three points at home against 1.FC Union Berlin (29/11, 20:30 CET). The last three results at the VELTINS-Arena have all been draws, largely because of a tendency to concede late goals.
“We were a bit naïve in those games,” says David Wagner, referring to the draws against Köln and Düsseldorf. “We’ve learnt our lessons and results like that are just part of the process we’re going through,” continues the Royal Blues head coach, who will have to do without one of his strikers on Friday. As well as the long-term injuries to Salif Sané, Benjamin Stambouli, Alessandro Schöpf and Nassim Boujellab, Mark Uth is also sidelined. “I don’t think he will be out for too long. I’m confident that he will be able to join us again next week,” explains Wagner.
Taking on the team of the moment
S04’s head coach has a lot of respect for his side’s next opponents – and with good reason. “Everyone is aware that Union Berlin have the highest points total over the last five matches. And they’ve absolutely deserved that,” emphasises Wagner, who is expecting his opposition to play “with a lot of power” and “a clear structure”. According to the boss, Union have more than enough quality to ensure that they finish comfortably outside of the bottom three.
However, Wagner also believes his own team are well prepared to deal with this strong opposition and are very much looking forward to the game. “Friday night, under the floodlights of the VELTINS-Arena against the in form team of the league – it honestly doesn’t much cooler than that,” enthuses Wagner, before adding: “We will need to absorb the energy from the fans so that the boys are boosted those extra few metres which will definitely be needed on Friday.”
“Friday night, under the floodlights of the VELTINS-Arena against the in-form team of the league - it honestly doesn’t much cooler than that.”
The Royal Blues boss believes his squad is capable of “achieving success on Friday evening,” as long as they remember to play to their own strengths.
Faith in Kabak and Nastasic
Ozan Kabak and Matija Nastasic will be amongst those responsible for ensuring that Union can’t hurt Schalke in the same areas that have caused problems recently. The centre-back pairing was first formed against Bremen. I was confident that Ozan and Mati would work well in the centre of defence and it did work nicely,” says Wagner, highlighting how well the duo played against Werder. Wagner: “We have a lot of faith in the two of them and hopefully they will continue to work well and stay healthy.”