Take the first positive step against Schweinfurt
78 days after the end of 2019/20, FC Schalke 04 will begin the new season at home to 1. FC Schweinfurt 05 in the first round of the DFB-Pokal (13/9). Kick off in the VELTINS-Arena is at 15:30 CEST.
300 fans will attend Schalke’s first competitive match of the new season. A large number of the free tickets have been given to key workers from Gelsenkirchen’s hospitals and retirement homes. S04 wanted to say thank you to those people for the incredibly important work, especially during the difficult times during the coronavirus pandemic.
Clear aim: reach the second round
Schalke want to kick off the new campaign with a win: “We obviously want to reach the second round and I’m confident we will do,” stressed David Wagner, whose side failed to win any of the final 16 Bundesliga games last season. That negative run, according to Wagner, is in the past as “we begin a new season with a fresh start.”
We begin a new season with a fresh start.
The coach reflected back on a successful pre-season, with his team training hard for six weeks. “Apart from the Covid-19 case, which meant that several players could only train individually, we mainly managed to avoid injuries. Now we want to show that we have improved on last year,” said Wagner.
Nastasic requires 20 stitches
Schalke will have an almost full-strength squad to choose from for the game against the best amateur team from Bavaria. Matija Nastasic is the only definite absentee. The Serbian defender suffered a head injury against VfL Bochum and required 20 stitches, reported Wagner.
Salif Sané is unlikely to make the squad, as he has only completed parts of team training recently upon his return from a muscle injury suffered at the end of last season. Omar Mascarell has been able to train with the team in the past few days, with his recovery from a torn tendon almost complete.
All the players that were out injured at the end of last season have all returned during pre-season.
“All the players that were out injured at the end of last season have all returned during pre-season,” said a pleased Wagner. At one stage, the Royal Blues were without 10 players ahead of the Bundesliga restart.
Returnees in good shape
The head coach has several options for his team against the fourth-tier outfit. A number of players are available again after returning from loan spells last season. All of these players have impressed Wagner during training and in the friendlies. “The lads have worked well and are in good shape. Their attitudes so far have been impeccable,” praised Wagner. A number of the returnees could start against Schweinfurt, although the 48-year-old wasn’t prepared to reveal his starting XI.
Wagner’s preparations for the game haven’t been affected by the fact that the opponents are three divisions lower than S04. “We will treat it like every competitive game and prepare ourselves accordingly by collecting and analyse information about them,” revealed the head coach. Wagner is expecting a highly motivated side, as “every smaller side in the DFB-Pokal will fight for their chance to cause an upset. This is what makes this competition so exciting.” Despite this, the 48-year-old isn’t expecting a cupset in the VELTINS-Arena. “We want to take a number of positive steps in the coming weeks and months – and the first of those should come against Schweinfurt.”