An emotional win on an emotional evening

Rarely does the game in-hand seem to matter as little as yesterday’s DFB-Pokal round of 16 match vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf. The news of Rudi Assauer’s death was a shock for every Royal Blue. More impressive was the atmosphere that the Schalke fans created to help their team go on to win 4-1. The phrase “this win’s for Rudi” couldn’t have been more true yesterday night.

“It was very emotional of course,” explained Bastian Oczipka after the game. Bastian had never met the former S04 coach personally, but was aware of his importance to Schalke. “I know how much he was valued at this club, and therefore his passing touched me as well,” said the left-back.

Rudi Assauer was a prominent figure in the German footballing community.

Christian Heidel

The same goes for sporting director Christian Heidel, who described Assauer as “a prominent figure in the German footballing community.”  Heidel first met Rudi in 1993 at a game in Oldenburg: “We had a lively exchange of opinions, and joked around a bit too. Whenever you mention Schalke, Rudi’s name will always pop up.”

The news of Assauer’s passing reached the team on their way to the locker rooms. “Everyone knew just how important this man was for the club. We were all very emotional,” said coach Domenico Tedesco.

Kutucu fulfils childhood dream

What happened out on the pitch yesterday evening was just as impressive. The Royal Blues started the match confidently and were rewarded for their efforts with a goal on the thirty minute mark. Ahmed Kutucu’s dream strike was his first goal in the VELTINS-Arena.  “I had a couple of tears in my eyes when the fans went crazy like they did -it was an unbelievable feeling,” explained the 18-year-old, fulfilling a childhood dream and achieving the greatest moment of his relatively young career by scoring. “It was always my aim to play at the VELTINS-Arena and get a goal here.”

Salif Sané and Mark Uth’s goals after the break looked to have sealed the game for Schalke, but a Düsseldorf goal, which eventually turned out to be a consolation, understandably did not please Tedesco: “We lost control and defended too deep. We were punished for that by conceding,” said the coach critically. Rouwen Hennings’ strike suddenly raised the tension in the VELTINS-Arena just that little bit, and it wasn’t until the 88th minute that Salif Sané finally put the game to bed and eased the nerves.

Oczipka annoyed with carelessness

Bastian Oczipka echoed Tedesco’s sentiment after the match: “I am 100% not pleased with today’s game. We were too passive in our play when it was 1-0 and 3-0, and had Düsseldorf made it 3-2, it could have been a whole other story. We must play better.”

Nonetheless, the clear victory over Düsseldorf should give Schalke renewed confidence for the upcoming match against Bayern this Saturday, which kicks off at 18:30 CET. “It will be a completely different game on Saturday,” admits Oczipka, but he sees the potential to pull off an upset, as the hosts have not been “in the most sensational form” this season. “When we played them in the first half of the season, Bayern absolutely dominated us, so we now want to show a different side to our play this weekend.”

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