David Wagner: We’re ready and can’t wait to finally get going!
FC Schalke 04’s Bundesliga season will kick off with an away fixture at reigning champions FC Bayern on Friday night (18/9, 20:30 CEST). Head coach David Wagner is looking forward to the opening game. “We are ready and can’t wait to finally get going after our DFB-Pokal game was postponed,” commented Wagner.
S04’s coach is well aware of how difficult the task ahead is. “Bayern have recently won the treble and they are one of the best teams in the world – if not the best. We know that it will be anything other than easy,” explained Wagner. The recent statistics back up this statement: Hansi Flick’s side are currently on a 30-game unbeaten run in all competitions (29 wins, 1 draw).
Despite Bayern’s incredible form in recent months, Schalke are still excited to get this season underway. “We are all professionals who want to compete in competition, so we can’t wait to finally get going,” stressed Wagner. “Obviously, Bayern are the clear favourites. But football games start 0-0. We have prepared incredibly hard and we want to perform and take a result from the game. We know that fighting will be rewarded and we will do just that in Munich.”
Praise for the attitude in training
After seven weeks of hard work, which Wagner and the rest of his coaching team have used to prepare the squad for the new season without a winter break, the coach was pleased with his side’s attitude. “The team has got on board well since day one. In the next coming weeks and months, we want to show people that we can play better than they think we can,” said the 48-year-old.
We are all professionals who want to compete in competition, so we can’t wait to finally get going.
Wagner will have almost all of his squad available for the game in the Allianz-Arena, which will be empty after the city of Munich decided no fans would be allowed to attend on Thursday. The Royal Blues will, however, be without Matija Nastasic, who suffered a cut to his head in the friendly against VfL Bochum and had to have 20 stitches. “The cut has been weeping somewhat recently, so the stitches haven’t been taken out yet,” reported Wagner. The Serbian defender is due to return to team training next week.
Salif Sané is not yet fully fit after recovering from his muscle injury. The centre back only just rejoined team training on Thursday. Omar Mascarell is closer to his comeback, but, according to Wagner, will still need more time.
New signing Paciencia will travel to Munich
“All of the other players are available,” commented Wagner, who has new signing Goncalo Paciencia as an option to play up front. The striker only signed for S04 a few days ago on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt. The Portuguese attacker has impressed Wagner in training so far. “Gonca is up for it. You can see that he wants to help the team, so he will travel to Munich. He’s fit, raring to go, knows our team and the Bundesliga, so he shouldn’t need long to settle in. We’re all happy that Gonca is a part of our team now.”
Overall, Wagner is happy with what he has available to him. “We have a really good squad and we can adapt to playing against any opponent. We have a lot of competition for places within our squad, which is exactly what you want as a coach. Competition for places creates friction and friction creates energy and we need energy to play successful football!”