One word is dominating the thoughts of FC Schalke 04 and striker Kevin Kuranyi ahead of their make-or-break Group B showdown against Rosenborg BK – pressure.
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One word dominates the thoughts of FC Schalke 04's players before their make-or-break Group B match against Rosenborg BK on Tuesday – pressure.
The goal-shy Gelsenkirchen side have scored only twice in five UEFA Champions League group-stage games – the joint-lowest tally of the 32 participants – with both coming in the reverse fixture against Rosenborg in Trondheim on 3 October. Striker Kevin Kuranyi scored the second goal in that 2-0 success, adding to Jermaine Jones's 62nd-minute opener, and he knows the onus is on him to repeat the feat and help Schalke into the knockout rounds. "Yes, there is pressure," said the German international. "But there is always pressure, and pressure is good for us as it will motivate us and perhaps help us produce the goals we need. We are creating a lot of chances but our problem is capitalising on them. It is not only the strikers but the midfielders too.
"I am confident about the match. Our coach [Mirko Slomka] has put a lot of pressure on me to score and I have a feeling I will be successful. Then we will both be happy." Kuranyi, leading marksman at the Arena AufSchalke for the last two seasons, certainly has a UEFA Champions League pedigree, having scored five goals in his first 14 games prior to this campaign. But his strike against Rosenborg in Norway remains his only goal in Group B, and he has since netted just three times in eleven outings for club and country. His team-mates have struggled with their shooting boots too, as Schalke have slipped to seventh in the Bundesliga.
Rosenborg, second in Group B behind Chelsea FC and with a two-point advantage over their hosts, arrive in Germany in pole position to qualify – requiring a draw. Kuranyi, however, is determined to grab Schalke's slim chance and is delighted that qualification has come down to this final match in front of their own fans. "We know we can make history by reaching the knockout phase for the first time, and our preparation has been perfect," said the 25-year-old. "We know we can achieve a lot by winning only one match. I don't know a lot about Norwegian football but I do know about Rosenborg. I have a lot of respect for them."