David Wagner: We’ll have to play to our limits
FC Schalke 04 are approaching a run of three games in seven days before the international break, starting on Sunday evening against Eintracht Frankfurt (15/12, 18:00 CET). The Royal Blues are unbeaten at home since losing to FC Bayern München on the second matchday of the season. David Wagner is hoping to extend this record to seven games.
“There are still nine points up for grabs and every one of them is extremely important,” says the head coach, full of anticipation for the last week of football of the year. First and foremost, though, his focus is on the upcoming game with Eintracht: “We’ll have to give it everything we’ve got.”
We want to do everything we can to play our best football. That’s what we need to do to win.
According to the 48-year-old, the team’s next opponents will require their full concentration: “It’s crazy what Eintracht Frankfurt have achieved over the last couple of years. They’ve made a lot of smart decisions and the club is now one of the best in Germany again.” The Eagles’ game is characterised by passion, enthusiasm and speed. Moreover, they often make use of wide areas to create goals. Wagner: “We want to do everything we can to play our best football. That’s what we need to do to win.”
Eintracht were in Europa League action on Thursday night and despite losing 3-2 to Vitoria Guimaraes, they scrapped into the knockouts. “It’s certainly not a disadvantage for us. But on Sunday we have to show whether it is an advantage. We will play at the highest possible tempo and play with aggression and intensity.” The fans in the VELTINS-Arena will also be a contributing factor: “We want to play our football with the full support of the fans.”
Matija Nastasic and Mark Uth unavailable again
Wagner will again have to make do without Matija Nastasic in the centre of defence because the Serb’s knee problem has flared up again. “We’re doing everything we can to get him back and playing again soon. Matija is a complete professional and every game he can’t play hurts him a lot, especially at this stage,” says Wagner, praising his player’s enthusiasm. Mark Uth will remain on the sidelines until the new year.
Benjamin Stambouli is making good progress but is unlikely to feature against Frankfurt as he continues to recover from his foot injury. “Benji is back in training and we’ll have to see what happens over the coming days,” says Wagner, who was able to celebrate Amine Harit’s contract extension on Wednesday (11/12). “I don’t think any other team in Germany has as many exciting players between the ages of 19 and 23 as we do. We want to help these guys stay hungry and continue to develop as a group.”