Sweating on the fitness of a number of key players, Huub Stevens is nevertheless hopeful FC Schalke 04 can wrap up qualification from UEFA Champions League Group B with victory against Olympiacos FC on Wednesday. However, the Greek visitors remain firmly in contention and Leonardo Jardim is keen for his side to do their country proud in Germany.
Huub Stevens, coach
The Bundesliga defeat by Leverkusen is in the past. We are focused on the goal before our eyes, to qualify for the next round of the Champions League. Olympiacos are playing well in the Greek Super League and are a successful side. They have also won their past two games in the Champions League, so that tells you something.
It will be about showing our qualities and trying to make it as difficult as possible for them. We are at home and we hope to achieve our aim with the help of our fans.
It would be great for German football if Bayern, Dortmund and Schalke all made it through, but none of us are there yet. We all still have to make that final step.
I don't have a problem with criticism. If you don't play well and lose then clearly you will receive criticism – that's not an issue for me. But [for the media] it doesn't matter how well you have done over the course of the season; only the present counts. I, on the other hand, prefer to look at the big picture after 34 matches in the Bundesliga, or seeing what you have achieved in the Champions League at the end of the season.
Saturday: Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2-0 Schalke (Schürrle 45, Kiessling 67)
Unnerstall; Höwedes, Papadopoulos, Matip, Fuchs; Jones (Moritz 74), Neustädter; Farfán (Marica 69), Holtby (Barnetta 60), Draxler; Huntelaar.
• Kyriakos Papadopoulos was sent off with eight minutes remaining as Schalke slumped to their second successive away loss in the Bundesliga.
Stevens says Ibrahim Afellay is unlikely to play as he struggles to shake off a thigh injury sustained on international duty last week, while major question marks hang over Atsuto Uchida and Christoph Metzelder after muscle tears. "I will not play them if the risk is too big," insisted Stevens, who will consult with his medical team before making a decision on the pair.
Leonardo Jardim, coach
We have developed quite a lot and are a lot stronger than we were the first time we met. Schalke already had a high level of performance and a strong dynamic back then.
It is quite simple – we have come here to win, we want to qualify for the next round. We will try to be up to their level in this match, to stop their strong attack and to seize every chance that might be presented to us. That's how we want to go about achieving our goal.
Representing your club's country is always the goal when you play in Europe. You want to make the people in Greece proud of their club and their country. We want to put in a good performance which leaves us with a chance to go through on the final matchday. Our players want to perform well in Europe and they want to show what they are capable of.
We know how strong Schalke are at set pieces and that's why we want to pay special attention on defending well, while at the same time not forgetting to attack well.
Saturday: Olympiacos 2-0 Kerkyra FC (Mitroglou 24, Siovas 56)
Carroll; Diakité, Papazoglou, Siovas, Holebas; Ibagaza (Zaradoukas 79), Modesto (Fejsa 69), Greco; Fuster, Mitroglou (Djebbour 73), Abdoun.
• Kostas Mitroglou has scored six goals in as many games for Olympiacos. Drissa Diakité made his league debut for the Piraeus club.
Ariel Ibagaza and Rafik Djebbour recovered from respective groin and knee injuries to start at the weekend. Pablo Contreras, fit again following a right calf problem, was an unused substitute. Kostas Manolas, who had also been troubled by his right calf, has travelled to Germany.
• This is the second successive season in which Olympiacos have faced German opposition in the group stage. Twelve months ago they lost 1-0 at Borussia Dortmund, their fourth defeat in their five visits to Bundesliga teams; they have failed to score in all those reverses.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.