Dimitrios Grammozis: The focus is back on football
Despite relegation to Bundesliga 2 being confirmed on the last matchday, FC Schalke 04 will not be taking it easy for the remainder of the season, said head coach Dimitrios Grammozis. Ahead of Saturday’s game at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (8/5, 15:30 CEST), Grammozis said “We are fully focused on the remaining four games and want to pick up as many points as possible.”
At the same time, the 42-year-old said that he is looking to find the right mix of players in the line-up. “When I took on this job, I told the lads that we wanted to give them a platform. Kerim Calhanoglu and Mehmet Can Aydin, for example, quickly found their way into the starting XI and were able to prove themselves,” Grammozis said. The match against Hoffenheim may come too soon for Aydin, however. The midfielder has only been able to take part in running training recently due to syndesmose ligament issues. However, Grammozis added that there is a chance that Aydin could at least make the squad this weekend.
Several absences in defence
Malick Thiaw will definitely be out this weekend, as he serves a one-match ban following his sending off against Bielefeld. The Royal Blues will also be without several defensive stalwarts on Saturday. William suffered an ACL tear several days ago and has since already undergone an operation, while Omar Mascarell will also miss out with a muscle injury. Benjamin Stambouli and Salif Sané will also both be serving a suspension after picking up their fifth yellow card against Arminia. Stambouli is also recovering from upper jaw surgery.
Not a single player came to us over the past days to tell us that they didn’t want to play anymore. Everyone is giving it their all in training.
Kilian Ludewig (broken foot) and Matija Nastasic (calf) are both still in rehabilitation training, while Hamza Mendyl is working on his comeback from a syndesmose ligament injury. Grammozis will therefore be without seven of his 11 defensive players due to injury and suspension. The match in Sinsheim will also be too soon for Nassim Boujellab after his ligament injury.
Moved past the events following relegation
Schalke’s last game lies nearly two and a half weeks back, after the match against Hertha BSC had to be postponed as the Berliners entered into quarantine, while the following weekend was set aside for the DFB-Pokal semi-finals. During that time, the team focused not only on preparing for the upcoming games, but also on coming to terms with their relegation. “The lads were shaken up after the defeat in Bielefeld and the events that occurred afterwards. We couldn’t just go straight back to our regular day-to-day routine. Everyone needed time to process what had happened. We led a lot of discussions. I’m happy that we can put our focus back on football now,” said Grammozis. “Not a single player came to us over the past days to tell us that they didn’t want to play anymore. Everyone is giving it their all in training.”
Grammozis is also fully focused on the upcoming challenges. “I would very much like to say thank you to all the fans who sent me many messages. These helped to give me the strength to move past these events and to focus on what’s ahead,” he said.