In startling goalscoring form for club and country, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is hoping some of his magic will start to rub off on struggling FC Schalke 04, noting: "Our confidence is a bit low."
Article top media content
Last season's surprise package in Germany, FC Schalke 04 have made headlines for the wrong reasons this time round. The form of Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has at least given fans in Gelsenkirchen something to cheer about.
The 27-year-old has scored in his last eight games for club and country – nine goals in total – and 14 times in 12 games in all competitions since his switch from AC Milan. Having failed to find the target in the Matchday 1 loss at Olympique Lyonnais, 'The Hunter' scored in Schalke's 2-0 win against SL Benfica last time out and is eager to continue his golden streak as Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC come calling.
"I've never had as good a spell as this one when it comes to scoring," said the one-time SC Heerenveen, AFC Ajax and Real Madrid CF man. "However, I don't like to look back – I want to look forward."
When it comes to explaining his current run of form, Huntelaar offered: "I give it all I have in every game." However, perhaps more enlighteningly given the trouble he had getting regular games at Madrid and then Milan, he added: "I like the team and the people, but the most important thing is that I'm getting to play for 90 minutes. That's important for a player. I can feel the faith in me."
Coach Felix Magath has denied that Huntelaar is the only member of the Schalke side pulling his weight at the moment, explaining: "The team is playing for him. Given his skill, he is being picked out by his team-mates. Raúl [González] is also playing a big part; he draws attention and markers away to leave space for Huntelaar to exploit. Huntelaar asserts himself and is scoring at will. He has real class, as can be seen in almost every game."
All the striker needs now is for his form to lift his team-mates. "The next two matches in the Champions League are very important for us," he said. "Anything is possible with a good performance. I think if we had won our last game [a 2-2 draw against VfB Stuttgart on Saturday], everything would be fine, but that's football. Our confidence is a bit low. If you win, everything is easier. If you lose, everything is more difficult."
Defeat by a Hapoel side propping up Group B would be a minor calamity in such circumstances, but Huntelaar is hoping that – perhaps for the first time this season – his side can profit from the misfortune of others. "[Hapoel] are a good side, but like all teams they make mistakes," he explained. "We can win if we exploit those lapses."