Rául González hopes his goal for FC Schalke 04 on Saturday proves the first of many as the German side look to put a poor start behind them by getting the better of SL Benfica.
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Rául González could not have imagined a more difficult start to his FC Schalke 04 career as Felix Magath's side crashed to defeat in their opening five games this season. But after picking up his first win in a Schalke shirt a week ago then earning a point with his first goal on Saturday, things are looking up.
"I don't regret [moving] at all, neither professionally nor on a personal level," Rául said ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Group B meeting with SL Benfica. "We lost a lot of games at the beginning of the season, but we want to change that trend for good tomorrow."
The moment Rául and Schalke had been waiting for came with three minutes to play against VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday. Trailing 2-0, fellow summer signing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar pulled one back early in the second half before Rául held off two defenders and struck with a low shot.
"I'm very happy to have scored my first goal," Rául said. "It's definitely important for my confidence and morale. I feel better with every game and am becoming more used to things. I feel accepted, that I've arrived." Felix Magath, his coach, was also delighted, saying: "I believe this goal will give him a boost. You can see he is the right man for us in attack. He is always dangerous."
Magath will be hoping the goals start to flow as Schalke look to make up for their opening-day loss to Olympique Lyonnais when they take on Portuguese champions Benfica. "We're counting on experienced players like Raúl and Huntelaar, who know this competition, the atmosphere that surrounds it and are lifted by the occasion," Magath said. "I hope they'll lead the way for the young players."
Raúl won the UEFA Champions League three times in his 16-year Madrid career and will strive to make his knowledge count. "It's up to the experienced players to guide and motivate the younger ones," he said, adding he is confident Schalke can turn the corner. "We are in a good position now with back-to-back home games. Benfica are a good side, they won their championship last year and are strong defensively. But the group is open, everything is possible."