The last and so far only meeting between these two teams at the Böllenfalltor in the German top flight was many moons ago. On 21st October 1978, Schalke beat the Lilies 2-1, a scoreline which no Schalke fan would object to this time around.
The media storm during the week, which reported on alleged internal dissent at the club, has had no negative influence on the team’s preparation for the game in southern Hesse, stressed Andre Breitenreiter. “I am not too concerned with the issue. We are not talking about criticism but about claims that have already been refuted from various sides,” he explained before adding that he has had a lot of positive feedback from players and colleagues at the club in recent days.
“We now have to concentrate on Darmstadt and what we didn’t manage to do against Bremen – pick up three points. We want to get back on track with a win,” said the 42-year-old. The approach against Bremen, especially before half time, was very good. “The only thing missing was the goals. After the game we discussed matters in a lot of detail and now know what we have to do better at Darmstadt.”
Breitenreiter expects to face a confident opponent following their 2-1 win at Hannover to kick off the second half of the season. The Lilies, who are by no means a typical promoted side but have a squad with over 800 Bundesliga appearances, are seen as an uncomfortable opponent by the coach. “Darmstadt play aggressively, passionately, have good transition play and are constantly dangerous at set plays with their tall players. We have to concentrate hard and also approach the game aggressively as well as showing over 90 minutes that we are the better team,” said Breitenreiter.
Apart from those players who are out with long-term injuries, Schalke’s head coach has a full squad to pick from at the Böllenfalltor. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has been battling with a cold over the past few days but is available to play. Joel Matip can also play despite missing some training with a groin issue.