Huub Stevens: “We have a good chance if our plan works”

FC Schalke 04 will face Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday in the VELTINS-Arena (6/4), with the visitors currently on a 14 game unbeaten run in all competitions. Huub Stevens is aware of how difficult a challenge it will be and underlined the fact that S04 will only be able to stop Frankfurt’s dangerous attackers by defending as a unit.

“We have to stop Frankfurt as team. When we have the ball, we have to get it forwards quickly and when we don’t, we have to get behind it as a team. This has to be our plan,” explained the head coach. “If our plans works and we don’t make any mistakes, then we have a good chance.”

Learn from mistakes

The team failed to avoid making mistakes on Wednesday (3/4) in the quarterfinal of the DFB-Pokal against Werder Bremen. “A good team will always punish you,” reflected Stevens, adding: “I hope that will learn from this and not repeat these mistakes.”

If we win, then the pressure will start to decrease, but if we lose there will be even more

Huub Stevens

The Dutchman admitted that the 2-0 defeat to Bremen was still on the players’ minds. “We were all disappointed after the game. We played well in parts, so it’s annoying to not get anything from the game,” said Stevens. Nevertheless, the game has gone and the most important thing is the next game in the Bundesliga.

The Royal Blues managed to increase the gap between themselves and the relegation zone to six points with a 1-0 win over Hannover last matchday, however the situation is still not great with seven games left to play this season. “There is a still a lot of pressure there”, said the coach. “If we win, then it will start to decrease, but if we lose there will be even more.” For Stevens, the team should focus on winning on their own games, instead of relying on rivals to drop points at this stage of the season.

Uth injured, Caligiuri close to his comeback

The final training session ahead of the game will be key for Stevens, as he decides who will make the 18-man squad. “Ralf Fährmann has taken part in full training in the last few days, so he’s looking good,” commented Stevens, on the keeper, who has recently been out of the squad due to a muscle strain. Mark Uth, on the other hand, could be out for the rest of the season after picking up an adductor injury against Bremen. Alessandro Schöpf (lateral ligament problems) will also miss Saturday’s game.

Weston McKennie’s injury situation has improved. The American midfielder ruptured a ligament playing against Ecuador two weeks, but has already completed parts of team training. “He was in some pain, but isn’t anymore, which is a good sign,” explained Stevens. Amine Harit and Daniel Caligiuri have both completed full team training after their respective injuries too. Stevens isn’t sure if Harit is fit enough to make the squad, whereas he thinks Caligiuri is definitely an option for the game against Eintracht.

Nabil Bentaleb, who is currently training with the U23s due to disciplinary reasons, will not make the squad. Stevens reported that the Algerian has been sending positive signals though. Hamza Mendyl has also been with Bentaleb in the U23s for the same reason. “He will get a second chance when the time comes.”

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