Domenico Tedesco: Confident and fully focused
Riding off the momentum of the derby win as well as being driven by the prospect of reaching the DFB-Pokal final in Berlin, FC Schalke 04 welcome Eintracht Frankfurt to a sold-out VELTINS-Arena on Wednesday evening. “It’s a privilege to be playing in the semi-final. We’re going into the game with confidence and the desire to give our all to win this game,” promises Domenico Tedesco.
The head coach is aware that the 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund took a lot out of his side. “That shouldn’t be a problem for us though. We have recovered well and have enough depth in the squad to make sure we don’t overwork any of our players. The team is fully focused on getting to the final.”
A physical test awaits
Tedesco has his team well prepared for this clash with Frankfurt. “We’re going to be playing against a side that is very physical. Eintracht are very athletic with various individual players who possess impressive physical ability,” says the coach, who also emphasises how stable the Eagles are at the back. “They don’t concede many goals. And when they do, they’re often unlucky. We have to be able to find their weaknesses and expose them.”
We have to be able to find their weaknesses and expose them.
Tedesco does not want to focus on what is happening off the pitch in Frankfurt. However, the 32-year-old still underlines that Niko Kovac’s switch to FC Bayern Munich at the end of the season will not have a negative impact on the performance of the Croatian’s side in the semi-final. “Frankfurt have the exact same goal as us, and that’s to reach the DFB-Pokal final,” Tedesco says. “I don’t think that the idea that Kovac will be leaving the club in the summer will be going through their heads at all throughout the 90 or even 120 minutes.”
Embolo to be re-evaluated before the game
According to Tedesco, there were no players who picked up injuries in the derby. In the case of Breel Embolo, however, who missed the game due to muscle problems, he could make his return to the squad against Frankfurt. “A decision will be made on Embolo’s status just before the game,” reports Schalke’s coach. “The doctors and the physios have to give the green light for me to select him. We will not be taking any risks.” One player who will definitely be missing out is Matija Nastasic. The defender suffered knee ligament damage in the game against Hamburg and will therefore be out for the rest of the season.
Numbers, stats and facts before the game
The Royal Blues have won four out of their last five DFB-Pokal semi-finals. The most recent one came in the 2010/2011 season, when Raul scored the winner in a 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich. They went on to win 5-0 in the final against MSV Duisburg.
Bastian Oczipka is the only Schalke player to have played against Frankfurt in the DFB-Pokal before. He was part of the Hansa Rostock side that beat the Eagles 2-1 after extra time in 2008.
Frankfurt’s striker Sebastian Haller is currently the second top scorer in the competition. The Frenchman has netted four times so far, with only Robert Lewandowski ahead of him in the standings (5).