Tedesco: Expecting a hard-fought match

The waiting is over. After 86 days off, the new season begins for the Royal Blues on Monday at 18:30 CEST. They face BFC Dynamo in the first round. The match at the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark marks the first competitive game in charge for Domenico Tedesco as head coach of FC Schalke 04.

Thoroughly scouted the opponents

"The excitement is huge. Pre-season really felt like three months," said Tedesco. "We’ve worked hard in the past six weeks. Now I’m just happy that we’re getting going." Schalke’s opponents, who secured their place in the competition by winning the Berlin Landespokal, have been carefully scrutinised by Tedesco and his team. The 31-year old is already making it clear that the north-east regional outfit are not to be taken lightly. Already two matches into their season, they have picked up four out of the six points on offer. "BFC play out quickly from the back and they use the wings a lot so we need to be expecting a lot of crosses into the box. BFC will fight from the off and they have the home advantage. I’m expecting a hard-fought match". 

Royal Blues can draw on a lot of creativity

Tedesco is yet to decide which 18 players he’s going to pick for the trip to the capital. "I’m going to wait until the final training session, the day before the match". He will have the full pick of the squad as there are no new injuries in the team.

Alessandro Schöpf remains a long-term injury (cruciate ligament). The Austrian is nearing his comeback but has only been in light training and hasn’t yet tested his fitness in a match. Breel Embolo is also still on the sidelines after nine months out. "We’re only going to pick players who are 100% fit," Tedesco said, ‘and we have a healthy competition for places".

Ralf Fährmann, the new captain

The head coach has also decided that Ralf Fährmann will captain Schalke in the upcoming season, replacing Benedikt Höwedes. "It’s not a decision against Bene," emphasised Tedesco. "I have huge respect for what he's done. He’s always been a huge presence in the past, never giving up when things were going badly". Tedesco is looking to spread responsibility throughout the team this season. Like Höwedes, Fährmann is a big presence in the squad and a Schalker through and through. "On top of this, Ralf is a very communicative player and speaks up even when it’s uncomfortable," explains Tedesco.

Leon Goretzka will be Fährmann’s vice-captain. "He wants to take more responsibility on the pitch and this will give him the opportunity to." As well as Fährmann, Goretzka and Höwedes, Naldo and Guido Burgstaller also hold authority in the team. "Of course Bene was disappointed, but he accepted the decision and has been really committed and concentrated in the subsequent training sessions, and of course, he has the right and the duty to maintain responsibility within the team."