Domenico Tedesco: We need a good day
The Royal Blues have a tough, but exciting challenge ahead of them on Wednesday (20/2). The reigning English champions and current table toppers, Manchester City, will visit the VELTINS-Arena for the first leg of the last 16 in the Champions League (21:00 CET). Head coach Domenico Tedesco is looking forward to the clash with the Sky Blues, which will see Ralf Fährmann keep his place in goal.
“Ralf Fährmann was part of the team that worked so hard to qualify for the Champions League last season,” said Tedesco regarding the decision to pick the Schalke captain tomorrow. He summed it all up with a smile: “it’s fair, man.”
Alexander Nübel will return in goal for the Bundesliga fixture on Saturday (23/2) at 1. FSV Mainz 05. The head coach doesn’t feel that this decision is so significant: “I said a few weeks ago that we are very comfortable with our goalkeeping situation, as we have two excellent keepers available to us.”
We have two excellent keepers available to us.
“Excellent” is also the right word to describe Man City’s squad. The Citizens have several quality players in several positions, who are widely regarded as world class. Therefore, they will go into the game as clear favourites, which Tedesco is fully aware of. “We are obviously going to be the outsiders,” said the 33-year-old, who still maintains “that we deserve to be in the last 16, because we performed well in a difficult group and earned our place.”
According to Tedesco, Man City have a “very strong team”, whereby every player is a threat, especially the attacking players. “The speed and quality Leroy Sané has cannot be ignored.” The whole team plays “structured football, regardless of whether they have won back possession, are in the final third or are pressing.” Tedesco also knows that “every team have to pay a certain price for their style of play.”
Nabil Bentaleb fully recovered
Even against Pep Guardiola’s men, Tedesco insists the focus should remain on themselves: “We’re thinking about our own game – what makes us tick, what are our strengths, what are our principles – we don’t like to adjust these for a certain opponent, we like to stand by them,” he explained. In order to do this, his team needs “a certain anchor to build on.” That said, the coach admits there are certain aspects to his side’s game which can be changed depending on the opposition.
Naturally, Tedesco was unwilling to reveal who would be in his starting XI against the Cityzens. Nabil Bentaleb started on the bench against Freiburg on Saturday due to groin problems and came on in the 66th minute for Amine Harit. The Algerian is certainly a ‘Plan B’ option for the coach after having completed training without any further problems. Guido Burgstaller and Steven Skrzybski will not be ready to play the full 90 minutes, while Benjamin Stambouli is unlikely to be fully recovered from his cheekbone injury. Omar Mascarell is suspended for Wednesday night’s tie.
Regardless of personnel, Tedesco knows that his team need will need a “good day” against Manchester City, and to “give absolutely everything”. The boss expressed his excitement ahead of the game too: “There’s nothing better than a Champions League game against one of the best teams in Europe. We’ve given an awful lot to be able to compete in fixtures like this.”