Precise on and off the pitch

The Royal Blues have drawn in Munich, progressed in the Cup and beaten Hertha over the past week, results which have gone some way to making up for the disappointing defeat vs. Eintracht Frankfurt a few weeks ago. After victory over the Berlin side, it wasn’t just football that the players wanted to talk about.

The newly-laid pitch at the VELTINS-ARENA played into Schalke’s hands early on as they hit their stride and created numerous chances through their fast-paced passing game. It was certainly an improvement on the game against Eintracht Frankfurt. “Speed is certainly important,” explained Leon Goretzka, “however, it’s also important to ensure that accuracy and stability is retained.”

The best chance of the opening exchanges fell the way of the visitors, but Salomon Kalou was unable to fire home after 13 minutes. “We put in a good performance and were the better side throughout. The goals came at key times and we could have gone in front before Guido Burgstaller struck. We were brave but patient when necessary,” commented Markus Weinzierl.

The lead could have been more emphatic at the break as Goretzka was kept out on two occasions, firstly by the post (16’) and then by Rune Jarstein (25’). “The lads weren’t too happy with me at half time because I squandered some good chances, however, thankfully I managed to hit the back of the net after the break,” added the midfielder.

The clinical nature of their strikes was mirrored by a darts-inspired celebration. “Before training we play darts. We try to be accurate on the board and on the pitch,” stated Alessandro Schöpf. Goretzka went on to say that he was “given the board as a birthday present” and wanted to show the lads that he is just as good in front of goal as he is at the oche.

Similar precision will be needed this week as the Royal Blues have games against PAOK (16th) and FC Köln (19th) coming up. “I hope that the game in Munich was a turning point,” said Benedikt Höwedes. “The aim is to put in a similar performance in the Europa League on Thursday.”