Thomas Reis: Not easy, but not impossible either
The first of FC Schalke 04’s final nine games of the season following the international break is on Saturday at home to Bayer 04 Leverkusen (1/4, 15:30 CEST). The Royal Blues are hoping to continue their eight-game unbeaten run this weekend, but Thomas Reis acknowledged “that it won’t be easy, but not impossible either.”
Leverkusen have also been in good form recently, winning each of their last five games in all competitions. “They have a lot of pace in their side and look to get in behind your defence as soon as they win the ball,” commented S04’s head coach. “It will be important to be solid when we don’t have the ball so that we can stop their pacey duo of Moussa Diaby and Jeremie Frimpong. Otherwise, you can barely stop them. We’re prepared for the challenge though.”
Reis and his coaching team have also come up with a few Leverkusen weaknesses that the Knappen need to take advantage of. “They are also vulnerable,” said the coach, who wants his side to try and win every possible tackle out on the pitch. “We want our style of play to frustrate them, whilst also playing attractive football ourselves. Attractive also means playing with courage and pressing the opponents early.” The fans will also play a big role on Saturday. “We’re at home and will have the supporters there behind us. That just gives the lads an extra boost,” revealed Reis.
Attractive football also means playing with courage and pressing the opponents early.
Reis will only know the players available to him after Friday’s final training session. The four players who were recently on international duty – Mehmet Can Aydin, Henning Matriciani, Alex Král and Tom Krauß – are all ready to play. Král and Krauß both missed the second game for their respective national sides. “Alex had a stomach problem, whereas it was a precautionary measure regarding Tom. Both have already trained since returning to Gelsenkirchen.”
Dominick Drexler, Danny Latza and Marcin Kaminski, who have all been out recently, have also been able to train this week. Thomas Ouwejan returned to action in the friendly against VVV-Venlo last Friday, but Reis stated that the Dutchman might not feature this weekend. “Thomas is desperate to play again in the Bundesliga. However, he’s still a bit sore. We don’t want to take any risks.”
It’s a similar story regarding Moritz Jenz (pulled hamstring). “It’s pretty frustrating. Moritz is basically free of pain, but scans have showed that there is a small problem. As a result, he will miss the game against Leverkusen. We’ve got a number of games left and we want to minimise the risk so that he can play against Hoffenheim next week,” explained Reis. There are several candidates to replace Jenz at centre-back, one being Leo Greiml. “He did really well against Venlo and has picked up some important minutes for the U23s recently, said the head coach. “I’m convinced that he’ll put in a good performance against Leverkusen if he plays.”