David Wagner: Humble and modest, but still ambitious
Next up for FC Schalke 04 is a trip to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday (7/12, 18:30 CET). The Royal Blues are unbeaten in six games and are currently third in the league table, while Leverkusen are seventh and unbeaten in their last five matches. Their last result was a shock win against the record champions FC Bayern.
As such, David Wagner is full of anticipation for the big game: “It’s an interesting challenge for us and it’s going to be a really exciting game,” said the head coach. “Leverkusen are one of the best teams in the league. They’re playing with confidence at the moment and they’re in great form. They also a huge amount of quality in attack.”
The boss wasn’t just full of praise for the opposition, but also for his own team, who have been piling up the points in recent weeks. Therefore, Wagner is sure that Leverkusen have just as much respect for his boys: “”We’re definitely not the kind of team you would choose to play against,” he said. Moreover, the head coach can see that his team is improving every week: “For example, against Bremen the guys showed that they can learn and that they know how to close out a game.”
We’re definitely not the kind of team you would choose to play against
The table looks good for third-placed Schalke at the moment. “Of course, it’s nice to be where we are after 13 games but it’s not the most important thing. We have to stay humble and modest, but also ambitious,” explained Wagner, before adding that it’s not a contradiction. He expects his team to be hungry every game and to implement the ideas discussed in training. Wagner: “We’ve been doing that well so far.”
Caution is key with Nastasic
In terms of his squad availability, Wagner can call upon everyone his squad, apart from those who are already out with long-term injuries, namely Salif Sané (knee), Alesssandro Schöpf (thigh) and Benjamin Stambouli (foot).
Matija Nastastic has been training individually during the week as a purely precautionary measure. “He took a blow to the knee but it’s not serious. I am working on the assumption that Mati will take part in our final training session and will be able to play on Saturday without any pain,” said Wagner. However, the coach did not reveal what his planned starting XI is: “Everyone who’s training and is fit is available to play,” emphasised Wagner.