Peter Knäbel: Everybody knows what’s at stake

FC Schalke 04’s next home game on Saturday (25/2) against VfB Stuttgart is an extremely important one given the position of both teams in the table. The Swabians are currently six points and four places above the Royal Blues, so a Schalke win would help cut the gap and give the Knappen a greater chance of avoiding relegation.

Thomas Reis’ team are currently on a four-game unbeaten run in the Bundesliga. The four points accrued across these goalless draws against Köln, Gladbach, Wolfsburg and Union Berlin have not only helped to improve S04’s points tally, but have also given the club more hope in the fight for survival. “More things have gone well than not over the last few weeks,” said Peter Knäbel, board member for sport. “I like the way we’re playing right now. The team has found a good style of play which is helping us to be really strong in defence. We now need to be more clinical up front to get what we deserve for our strong performances.”

Pressure can have a positive impact

The 56-year-old described the upcoming games – the one against Stuttgart at the VELTINS-Arena in particular – as “massive challenges, which we’re all looking forward to. These are the key weeks of our season. We have the chance to close the gap to the teams above us and make the end of the season really exciting and tense.” Knäbel is fully aware that the pressure is well and truly on now, but added: “You’re under pressure in every Bundesliga game and it can have a positive impact on you. We feel good and believe in ourselves right now. Everybody knows what’s at stake.”

We’re not saying we have to win, we want to.

Peter Knäbel

Knäbel explained that he has full confidence in the team and the coaching staff. “We have now shown several weeks in a row that we can compete in the Bundesliga. We need to keep on going, work hard and keep improving,” stated the board member. The 56-year-old, a former Bundesliga player, believes that if the team can start scoring then that will help greatly, but the players can’t afford to start getting impatient. “We’re not saying we have to win, we want to!”

Give 100% in every game

According to Knäbel, wins against teams towards the bottom of the table are hugely important as they will cut the gap. Following the visit of VfB Stuttgart, VfL Bochum are Schalke’s next opponents, another side looking to beat the drop. “We need to take things one step at a time. We have to give 100% in every game, regardless of who we are playing. I believe in the lads and I’m confident we can achieve our goal at the end of this season,” said Knäbel.

I believe in the lads and I’m confident we can achieve our goal at the end of this season.

Peter Knäbel

“The players and coaching staff have developed a thick skin in recent weeks, which is just what you need when you’re fighting relegation. Each individual knows how important they are for the team, even those lads who aren’t playing much at the moment,” said the 56-year-old. One reason for that is the quality in training due to the competition for places, but also because Thomas Reis has more options for his side. “Our signings during the winter transfer window have provided us with more flexibility and quality. We were able to improve our squad.”

One new signing, Moritz Jenz, is still unbeaten as a Schalke player and the side haven’t conceded a goal since his arrival. However, he also hasn’t seen his team score a goal yet, something which will hopefully change against VfB Stuttgart this weekend.

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