FC Schalke 04 have the chance to take over at the top of UEFA Cup Group A on Thursday, and coach Ralf Rangnick believes victory at home to Ferencvárosi TC will go a long way towards ensuring his side progress to the knockout stages.
'Big step forward'
"On the very last matchday, when we are not playing, we want to be through," said Rangnick, who is without Darío Rodríguez and Gustavo Varela, while Niels Oude-Kamphuis and Mladen Krstajic are doubtful with a torn muscle and groin problem respectively. "Winning on Thursday would be a big step forward. Ferencváros are a team with a strong fighting spirit. I expect them to play very defensively, so we may need a little bit of patience."
With group leaders Feyenoord level with Schalke on four points but inactive on Matchday 3, the section's other game pits FC Basel 1893, on one point, against Heart of Midlothian FC, who have yet to open their account. Although the Swiss champions began with a creditable draw at Schalke, Christian Gross's side have struggled recently, losing to FC Schaffhausen before bowing out of the Swisss Cup at the weekend on penalties against FC Thun.
Benjamin Huggel should return to the Basel midfield after a three-match domestic ban, and believes victory is essential. "We need to win against Hearts," said the Swiss international. "We have to keep the ball on the ground and make quick combinations. We shouldn't try our luck in the air because that's where they are strong."
The Scottish club welcome back Phil Stamp and Kevin McKenna from a calf strain and knee injury respectively, and will be seeking their first goal and first points of the group stage in Switzerland.
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