“We have to start getting back on track”

FC Schalke 04 have already won two competitive matches against Fortuna Düsseldorf this season. The Royal Blues will need to perform a lot better than they did during the 3-0 defeat in Mainz last week if they want to win against Fortuna for the third time.

“There can only be one opinion on our current situation,” said Domenico Tedesco. “Everybody is fully aware of our current plight, especially after the Mainz defeat. We need to stick to our core principles, which we didn’t do against Mainz.” The head coach admitted that it took him and the squad a couple of days to get over the defeat and events against the Zerofivers last Saturday.

Every tackle could be decisive

Tedesco and the squad had an open discussion in the changing rooms the day after the game, which he found very positive. “Every single player, even those who normally stay quiet, got involved in the chat and gave their opinions on the current situation. We are collectively responsible for the team’s current sporting situation – we have to fix that and start getting back on track. Every player has to play as if every tackle they make will be decisive,” commented the 33-year-old, who is also sure that his players will put their words into action.

We need to stick to our core principles, which we didn’t do against Mainz.

Domenico Tedesco

“The training week has gone well so far,” according to Tedesco, who has Benjamin Stambouli available to him again for the fixture against Fortuna. “He is a really important player for us, a real mainstay in our side.” The Frenchman has had a spell on the sidelines after fracturing his cheekbone, but is now back in action, albeit sporting a protective mask. Tedesco added: “Everything fits properly. He feels fit and can head balls again.”

Guido Burgstaller, who was also out injured in Mainz due to a foot injury, is back in training too. There are doubts over whether Weston McKennie (muscular problems) and Bastian Oczipka (bruised toe) will feature. “We will have to see if they make Saturday,” said Tedesco. Suat Serdar will definitely miss out as he continues to serve his three-match ban. Breel Embolo will also probably miss out as he makes a comeback from his long-term foot fracture injury. The Swiss is making a lot of progress however. “Breel has looked good in the last few days and weeks. He has still missed a lot of training though. We don’t know how much longer he will need. He has to expend a lot of energy at the moment,” explained Tedesco.

Concrete plans for the starting XI

Tedesco and his coaching team know they need to “find the right people for this situation” for the game against Düsseldorf. He also feels that although every player in the squad has the required footballing ability, some might not deal with boos or whistles as well as others.

There is a completely different atmosphere at Saturday’s opponents right now. Düsseldorf have taken 19 points from their last nine league games, meaning that only Bayern Munich have been more successful in this time frame. “Fortuna are deservedly ahead of us in the table right now,” said Tedesco, who also maintained: “I don’t want to talk them up though. We have already beaten them twice this season and will do everything to win against them for a third time.”

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