The official website for European football

Slomka expects a special evening

Published: Thursday 20 April 2006, 9.19CET
FC Schalke 04 coach Mirko Slomka is urging the German side to play with "pride and joy" when they take on Sevilla FC in their UEFA Cup semi-final first leg.
Published: Thursday 20 April 2006, 9.19CET

Slomka expects a special evening

FC Schalke 04 coach Mirko Slomka is urging the German side to play with "pride and joy" when they take on Sevilla FC in their UEFA Cup semi-final first leg.

FC Schalke 04 coach Mirko Slomka is urging his side to put their disappointing league form behind them and play with "pride and joy" when they welcome Sevilla FC to Gelsenkirchen for their UEFA Cup semi-final first leg on Thursday night.

Domestic disappointments
The German club have not won in five Bundesliga outings, slipping to fourth in the standings, but Slomka is refusing to let domestic travails distract his team from their European agenda. "We have to forget our recent league results and focus on this very special event," he said. "It's not every day you get the chance to play for a place in a European final. We have to be ready with pride and joy for these matches against Sevilla. We will have to fight and play well if we are to progress to the final."

Strikers shuffled
The coach could opt to start with Gerald Asamoah and Søren Larsen up front, with Lincoln and Kevin Kuranyi likely to be on the bench despite the former scoring in both legs of Schalke's quarter-final victory over PFC Levski Sofia. "I dropped Lincoln and Kuranyi against [1. FC] Köln on Saturday because they did not play well the previous weekend," explained Slomka, who has Fabian Ernst available after a one-match ban. "Both are excellent players and of great value to Schalke, but right now they are not at their best. Therefore it might be that both start on the bench against Sevilla."

Sand struggling
In addition, Schalke are still without long-term absentees Christian Pander and Manuel Neuer while centre-forward Ebbe Sand is struggling to overcome a stomach complaint. "Sand started suffering on Tuesday and feels a bit weak," Slomka said. "The rest of the players are fit and ready for this tie, which will be a highlight of their careers. I've been impressed by Sevilla's technical quality. They are defensively stable with a strong spine and a quick, talented attack. [Javier] Saviola and [Frédéric] Kanouté are world-class players."

Welcome support
Sevilla will be cheered on by almost 3,000 supporters at the Arena Aufschalke as they seek to overcome the 1996/97 UEFA Cup winners and are buoyed by the news that Kanouté and Antonio Puerta are fit to travel. Coach Juande Ramos must nevertheless do without striker Kepa Blanco, who was suspended for four matches following his dismissal against FC Zenit St. Petersburg in the quarter-final second leg, while long-term casualties Ariza Makukula and Pablo Ruiz remain sidelined. Ivica Dragutinović and Jordi López are also missing, with a sprained left knee and pulled hamstring, respectively.

Saviola threat
Their hopes may rest on the shoulders of Saviola, who has scored six goals in this season's competition, yet who believes Sevilla should expect the unexpected: "Anything can happen in a semi-final. We all have to work together to achieve a good result. It's one of the most important games in my career and we have a good chance of reaching the final."

'No favourites'
Team-mate Enzo Maresca echoes that view, adding that the Spanish club must not be complacent: "The first leg is important, but it never decides the tie. There are no favourites - Schalke have a lot of experience in Europe, but there are always surprises in football and we hope this will be the case here."

Last updated: 20/04/06 22.19CET

Related information

Team profiles
Related match
  • SSI Err

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=0/matches/round=2213/match=84075/prematch/preview/index.html#slomka+expects+special+evening

UEFA.com features

Star of 2014: Dominic Solanke
  • Star of 2014: Dominic Solanke
  • Captain Stark on Germany's Under-19 triumph
  • Sanderson on England and Arsenal return
  • Lyon academy products making the grade
  • Who has won titles in the most European nations?
  • Penalty shoot-outs: the long and the short of it
  • Story so far: Real Madrid CF
  • Guingamp magic floors Paris
  • Fenerbahçe great Alex calls time on career
  • Gabbiadini inspires high-flying Sampdoria
1 of 10
 
  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA word, the UEFA logo and all marks related to UEFA competitions, are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.