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Preview: Maribor v Schalke

Both NK Maribor and FC Schalke 04 need three points from their final Group G fixture, home coach Ante Šimundža anticipating "a hard battle and a spectacular match".

Ante Šimundža and Maribor need three points to reach the UEFA Europa League
Ante Šimundža and Maribor need three points to reach the UEFA Europa League ©AFP/Getty Images

Ante Šimundža eager to send Maribor into the winter break on a high
Roberto Di Matteo: "Only a win counts for both teams"
The matchday two meeting between the sides ended 1-1
Maribor have won six of their last seven games
Schalke had lost previous four away matches before weekend victory

Permutations: Maribor (3 pts) v Schalke (5)
Schalke must win and hope Sporting lose.
Maribor are out of the UEFA Champions League but will finish third with a victory.

Possible lineups
Maribor: Handanovič; Stojanović (Mejač), Rajčevič, Arghus, Viler; Mertelj, Ibraimi, Filipovič, Vršič; Tavares, Zahović.
• Out: none
• Doubtful: Stojanović (broken nose), Derviševič (toothache)

Schalke: Fährmann; Neustädter, Kirchhoff, Höwedes; Uchida, Fuchs, Aogo, Höger, Meyer; Choupo-Moting, Huntelaar.
• Out: Draxler (hamstring), Farfán (knee), Goretzka (hamstring), Kolašinac (knee), Matip (foot), Boateng (ankle), Santana (thigh), Obasi (foot), Sam (thigh)
• Doubtful: none

Ante Šimundža, Maribor coach
We know how strong Schalke are. They are the favourites, of course. But we will be ready to take our chance if there is one. If we win, we will have an excellent winter break at Maribor.

It will be our 35th match of the season – that's really a lot – but it will also be our last before the winter break, so the boys are extremely motivated. Schalke are in good shape, with a change of coach bringing fresh impetus into their team. I expect some unfamiliar faces to be in their squad so it will be a different match from the first one in Gelsenkirchen.

A draw is no good for either side – both teams will play for three points. I can promise a hard battle and spectacular match for the crowd here at Ljudski vrt. If that gets us a win, great – if it doesn't, we will not be disappointed, as we have already achieved much more than anyone expected this season.

Roberto Di Matteo, Schalke coach
There's a big incentive for both teams. It's a decider for us and for Maribor, so I expect a tactical game where small details will be decisive. We're not thinking about anything else – just about this match.

Last season Schalke had a similar situation against Basel at home but this is different. We're playing away and we know Maribor are especially strong at home. But of course we have to win to progress to the next round of the Champions League, which would be a great result for Schalke.

Maribor have a really nice team, very well organised with some powerful individuals. They are especially strong on the counterattack and I know that they will play aggressively. Only a win counts for everybody here.

Weekend results
Maribor 4-1 NK Radomlje (Bohar 24 57, Tavares 26, Sallalich 32; Rems 69)
VfB Stuttgart 0-4 Schalke (Choupo-Moting 1 21 61; Meyer 10) 

Form guide (all competitions)
Maribor: WWWLWW
Schalke: WWLWLL

Match facts
• Maribor are unbeaten in seven European home games, since a 1-0 loss against which team in the UEFA Europa League group stage in December 2013? Find out in our match background

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