Keller wants to see Schalke's good side

Champions League or Europa League? A question that will be answered at the PAOK Stadium this Tuesday from 2045 CET. The Royal Blues hope it will be the former and are therefore targeting a bold performance to clear the hurdle posed by Huub Stevens's side and reach the group stage of European football's flagship competition.

According to Jens Keller the 1-1 draw from the first leg is not a disadvantage for Schalke. "Last season we went out at home despite getting a draw in a very good performance in Istanbul," he said. "So last Wednesday's result doesn't tell you all that much." Nevertheless, the Royal Blues coach knows his team have to perform with more consistency than they have been doing. "We showed two sides to ourselves again on Saturday," the 42-year-old continued. "We have to stay focused throughout and not just for half a game. We started the season with the aim of testing ourselves against the best teams in Europe. We now have the chance – and we have to take it."

We have to stay focused throughout and not just for half a game.

Jens Keller

Keller has a clear idea of what is needed in the second leg in Greece. "We have 90 minutes to score at least once. We therefore have to be patient and also attempt to assert a certain dominance, of course," he said. "I think PAOK will adopt a more defensive approach. They'll look to sit back and wait for a chance to break so we have to be wary of quick counterattacks."

The Schalke boss will probably be able to fall back on the pace of Jefferson Farfan against PAOK. The Peru forward looks like being fit again after injuring an ankle in the first leg. Atsuto Uchida (muscle problems), Joel Matip (low back pain) and Leon Goretzka (ankle bruising) can also be hopeful of making the squad, unless their injuries flare up again. "Fortunately the injury situation has eased a little and we have more options again," said Keller, who will delay a decision on his starting lineup until after the final pre-match training session or even until the day of the game.

That the Royal Blues have to play the game behind closed doors due to a UEFA stadium ban is of secondary importance to Keller. "It's obviously not something we are used to and it's a shame for our fans but ultimately the only thing that matters is that we perform on the pitch and go through on footballing merits. If we do that, the supporters will have at least another six Champions League nights to look forward to in the next few weeks and months."


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