Coach Mirko Slomka says FC Schalke 04 are "happy to still have a chance" of reaching the knockout stage for the first time prior to their meeting with Rosenborg BK.
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FC Schalke 04 coach Mirko Slomka says his side are "happy to still have a chance" of reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout stage for the first time ahead of their Group B finale against Rosenborg BK.
Schalke go into the game third in the section, two points behind their Norwegian rivals and needing victory to join group winners Chelsea FC in the next round. The pressure is on the German team who could still miss out on the UEFA Cup spot should Valencia CF defeat Chelsea in the evening's other match. Slomka, though, is drawing strength from Schalke's 2-0 triumph in Trondheim on Matchday 2. "Victory against Rosenborg will take us a step forward," he said. "We're very motivated and will take a lot of confidence from the away match against Rosenborg. I don't think they're dream opponents for us, but I have dreamt about playing our last game at home and then about the knockout phase. We're happy we're at home and still have a chance."
Jermaine Jones and Kevin Kuranyi struck against Rosenborg on 3 October to lead Schalke to their only win in the section. Indeed, those are Schalke's only goals so far. The Bundesliga side have not scored in their last three Group B matches but a pair of goalless draws, at home to Chelsea and away to Valencia, have kept hopes alive. Slomka takes particular courage from having held the Premier League club, especially given the 4-0 drubbing Chelsea dished out to Rosenborg two weeks ago.
"Our performance against Chelsea gives us the right spirit – we just need to score goals," said the 40-year-old, whose team drew 2-2 at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. "There's no favourite but perhaps playing at home gives us a little advantage. If we perform at the same level as we did against Chelsea then we can win. Rosenborg are defensively strong but perhaps their loss to Chelsea makes them less confident at the moment. Also there are no more league games in Norway, so they have not played for a while."
Schalke are without the injured Christian Pander but with Heiko Westermann and Levan Kobiashvili both available again, Slomka has a near full-strength squad to choose from. His Rosenborg counterpart, Trond Henriksen, is keeping his cards close to his chest, confirming only that midfielder Per Ciljan Skjelbred will have a fitness test following a bout of flu. The 43-year-old has shifted attention away from his side, claiming the onus is on Schalke as Rosenborg are already assured of European football – by finishing above Valencia – next spring.
"We have a game plan," he said. "We won't sit back and try to defend but will look to go forward. They have to win. We're playing against a good team with a good defence but we must focus on ourselves. If we fight and play the best we can, we'll be satisfied. Regarding the Chelsea game, the players were over-confident before the match and therefore made some bad mistakes. It's not easy for them to concentrate as our season has ended, but we are focused for this match."