Domenico Tedesco: Massive test in our own back yard
All Königsblauen enjoy reminiscing about the last game of last season against Eintracht Frankfurt, where players and fans alike celebrated finishing runners-up in the VELTINS-Arena. After a long 91 day break, die Knappen return to their home ground on Saturday at 16:00 (CEST) to take on Fiorentina. When the game kicks off, a player who took part in those same celebrations in May could be playing on the opposing team.
All those involved are looking forward to their first game at home after the long summer break. “After almost three months without a home game in the VELTINS-Arena, the whole team is looking forward to this massive test in our own back yard,” says Domenico Tedesco, describing the team’s attitude. The game against the two time Italian champions is the last measure of preparation before Schalke take on Schweinfurt 05 in the DFB-Pokal almost a week later on Friday 17th at 20:45 (CEST).
Tedesco is attaching more to the clash than just sporting value. “We’ll be lining up against Fiorentina like we will be next weekend in the DFB-Pokal. Both teams are therefore taking their preparation seriously,” said the manager, anticipating important lessons to be learned from the game. The club from Tuscany, who start their Serie A campaign against Sampdoria two days after Schalke’s DFB-Pokal match, arrived on German soil last week. In a quick-fire tournament they emerged as victors against hosts Mainz and Athletico Bilbao, before drawing with Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-1. Fiorentina’s last meeting with Schalke was almost two years ago. That time Schalke won a friendly 3-1 while on training camp in Mittersill in Zell am See.
Last season the team managed by Stefano Pioli finished eighth in Serie A. Tedesco is preparing his squad for a strong opponent: “Fiorentina have a good team, which missed qualification for the Europa League by a hair’s breadth last season. This year they’ll give everything to be on the international stage again for next season.”
Marko Pjaca returns
Helping Fiorentina to try and achieve this aim will be a player who’ll meet a lot of his former teammates at the VELTINS-Arena. A few days ago Fiorentina made the transfer of Marko Pjaca official. The Croatian World Cup runner-up, who played for the Knappen seven times in the second half of last season’s campaign, is on loan from Juventus. At the place where he said farewell almost three months ago, the attacking player could now play for his new team for the first time. “I’m looking forward to seeing Marko Pjaca again. He’s a good lad, who scored two important goals for us in the second half of last season and also had a part in our successful performance,” said Tedesco, praising his former player.
The coach cannot definitively answer the question as to who will start for Schalke on Saturday: “We’ll have to do without a few injured players. I’ll decide on those players who are now available coming back from injury after the final training session.” The pleasant excitement of the long-awaited match on home soil remains unspoilt however, despite the uncertainty surrounding the starting line-up. “I hope as many fans as possible come to the stadium tomorrow,” says Tedesco, wanting a successful conclusion to pre-season in front of home support.