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Faltering Palermo give Schalke strength

US Città di Palermo go into their Thursday's UEFA Cup match on the back of successive defeats to face a FC Schalke 04 team that have hit a rich vein of form.

US Città di Palermo and their UEFA Cup last-16 opponents FC Schalke 04 experienced differing fortunes at the weekend as the Italian side fell to a surprising defeat in Serie A, while Schalke continued their fine recent form in the Bundesliga.

US Lecce 2-0 US Città di Palermo
Palermo lost their second consecutive Serie A match on Sunday as Giuseppe Papadopulo's unbeaten start to life as coach came to a grinding halt. After losing 2-0 to AC Milan last week, second-half goals from Mirko Vucinić and Guillermo Giacomazzi ensured Palermo endured another disappointing outing, despite having three goals disallowed. "We knew that Lecce would fight really hard but unfortunately we could not match them," said Papadopulo. "We stopped playing well after losing [Massimo] Mutarelli."

Midfielder Mutarelli suffered an ankle injury and is a serious doubt to face Schalke. Captain and playmaker Eugenio Corini is another in the treatment room, missing the game against Lecce due to an injury to his right thigh.

Hannover 96 1-2 FC Schalke 04
Schalke underlined their ambitions of booking a place in next season's UEFA Champions League with a 2-1 win at Hannover on Saturday. Danish international Christian Poulsen scored the opener on 20 minutes before midfielder Zlatan Bajramović got what proved to be a decisive second eight minutes later. The victory continued an impressive run of four wins and two draws from the six games since the winter break for Mirko Slomka's side, who also picked up three points with a 2-0 win against 1. FC Nürnberg last weekend.

Slomka, who was born in the Hannover region, said: "It's always a great feeling when you win in your home town. We played well, with lots of commitment and were the far better team in the first half. We deserved to win." The Schalke coach is currently missing Turkish international Hamit Altintop and Christian Pander but did welcome back midfielder Mimoun Azaouagh after a lengthy absence with a knee injury. Uruguayan defender Darío Rodríguez also returned following a thigh problem.