Dimitrios Grammozis: Being compact and setting up as a team

Just 72 hours after signing on the dotted line as FC Schalke 04’s new head coach, Dimitrios Grammozis approaches his first Bundesliga fixture. The 42-year-old Greek will be in the VELTINS-Arena dugout for our match against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Friday (05/03, 20:30 CET).

Dimitrios Grammozis

Dimitrios Grammozis is excited for his first game in charge. “I am really looking forward to the game. I want the lads to let loose on the pitch so that they can show what they’re really capable of,” he said ahead of the battle with the Zerofivers. Frederik Rönnow is a possibility for the squad after being plagued by adductor issues recently, though a final decision on his fitness will be taken on Friday. Grammozis will definitely be without Ralf Fährmann, Matija Nastasic, Nassim Boujellab, Salif Sané, Mark Uth, Steven Skrzybski, Kilian Ludewig, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Nabil Bentaleb. The boss will turn to players from the U19s and U23s to fill out his squad. “We know that there are good players here, players that I can put in the team without hesitation,” said Grammozis.

We have to try and take the initiative.

Dimitrios Grammozis

The head coach wouldn’t go into detail about his tactical set-up, in order to avoid giving the opposition any potential advantage. He did, however, emphasise that the team is equally adept at using a back three or a back four. To be successful, it is important to strike the right balance between defence and attack, says the new man in charge. “It’s not enough to sit back and wait for the opposition to make a mistake. We have to try and take the initiative. With the individual quality that we undoubtedly have, we always have goals in us.”

Keeping it tight and building from there

It’s not been possible to make whole-scale changes given the short space of time, says Grammozis. Instead, he and his coaching staff have focused on two or three key points each in defence and attack. “In the two training sessions, I have been positively surprised by the boys’ effort to defend and to create chances going forward. The foundation for it all is to stay compact. We want to try and attack in numbers while getting plenty of bodies back when we lose the ball. Getting that right is an important step,” says the new head coach. Despite Schalke’s position in the table, Grammozis doesn’t sense any negativity around the squad. Quite the opposite, in fact: “I’ve never had the feeling that players’ heads have dropped.” For Grammozis, that unity within the team is a crucial factor for success. “What we’ve tried to do in our short time here so far is to instil the boys with the idea that we have to be even more compact, that we have to work as a team. We have to let our opponents know that we support one another, no matter what’s going on in the game. That’s vital for our next game against Mainz and for survival in the Bundesliga.”

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