One lucky moment, two accounts opened, three important points
It was the 48th minute in the Mercedes-Benz Arena and all the Schalke fans in the stadium could take a big sigh of relief. After a mistake by Ralf Fährmann, Nicolas Gonzalez had the opportunity to place the ball into an empty net, but instead only managed to hit the post. "I just thought: please, please let us have some luck," said Christian Heidel.
The chance for the Argentinian was a turning point in the match for Markus Weinzierl, Stuttgart’s current coach and Schalke’s former coach. “If he had made it 1-1, the game would have been very different,” said the 43-year-old. “We were very lucky in that situation,” explained Alessandro Schöpf.
A deserved win after 90 minutes
When you look at the whole performance over the 90 minutes, the 3-1 win is definitely deserved. “If we had used our counter-attacks better, we probably would have scored more goals,” explained Domentico Tedesco. “In the future we need to be more clinical in those positions.”
The early lead was very important according to Steven Skrzybski. “We wanted to get a quick goal. It’s easier to play with an early lead than being a goal down,” said the striker who scored his third league goal of the season in the match, having scored a brace against Nürnberg one week ago.
Sane and Kutucu score for the first time
Two Schalke players opened their accounts in the game against Stuttgart. Salif Sane scored in the 70th minute as he met an Oczipka corner with a powerful header. The ball came off Mario Gomez’s shoulder and went past a baffled Rob-Robert Zieler to find the back of the net. It was the Senegalese’s first league goal in a Schalke shirt.
Ahmed Kutucu also scored his first goal for the Royal Blues. The forward fired home in the 78th minute on just his second first-team appearance for the club. “Ahmed did really well,” said teammate Oczipka.
Oczipka is in the midst of a great run of form at the moment, so it’s no surprise that he said he was annoyed at the winter break’s timing. “It’s a shame that it’s the winter break now. I personally would love to continue playing right now, but in reality it’s good that the boys get a break after having so many games in so little time. That will definitely do the team some good.”
Assessing the first half of the season during the break
The Royal Blues will not just be using the winter break for relaxation. “The win is a great feeling and definitely puts us in a great mood, but it does not change our position,” said Heidel. “We will still do a lot despite the winter break. 18 points from 17 games is something we need to analyse as well as looking at what we can influence and do better after the break.”
Ralf Fährmann said, “The first half of the season was a bit rubbish – we don’t need to beat around the bush.” On the search for better results in 2019, the Royal Blues will travel to Benidorm on the 4th January for a training camp. “We will do everything we can whilst we’re there in order to make the second half of the season better,” said Oczipka. “I hope that a few players that are out injured at the moment can return to the team and help us get better results in the next part of the season.”