Hamburg - FC Schalke 04 head to Hamburger SV on Tuesday night aiming to wrestle back second place after falling below bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund at the weekend
A 1-1 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday was a setback for the Royal Blues, especially with Dortmund taking advantage to move a point clear after being five adrift just a few weeks ago. However, it is nothing they cannot recover from, according to USA international midfielder Jermaine Jones.
"We won’t let it get us down, we’ll still pick up our points," he told bundesliga.com. "We’ve got to get three in Hamburg now. We just need to play our own game and not do anything stupid like in Leverkusen, then we can get something." Getting something will be vital to Schalke’s hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League again this season with five clubs currently in the hunt for four places.
Many will expect Frankfurt to drop out of the running, but Jones, who spent two years with the Eagles and was born in 'Mainhattan' would not discard their chances. "The Bundesliga has evolved and there are no longer any easy games," he said. “Every game is tough and we have to push ourselves to the limit. You’ve got to acknowledge that Frankfurt have played a good season so far and they're playing good football. It’s no surprise that they made our lives difficult, like they did to Munich too. We will just try to get as many points as possible this season.”
Only one club appear to have left this evolution behind, and Jones is no longer considering them. “We have beaten our direct rivals Dortmund, drawn against Frankfurt and lost to Bayern, but they’ve won practically everything so we can leave them out of it,” he said. "Bayern have already detached themselves, but our aim is to improve our young team and play in Europe again. We enjoy our Champions League games and want more of them next season, but we know it won’t be easy because a lot of clubs are fighting for these places, but we'll give it our all.”
Hamburg are not currently one of those clubs, even though the Bundesliga dinosaurs ultimately aspire for a return to European football’s elite club competition. Defeat to Fortuna Düsseldorf on Friday night once again denied Thorsten Fink’s men a place in the top six, while a hamstring injury has also deprived them of pivotal player Rafael van der Vaart.
"I knew I’d torn a muscle immediately," said the Dutchman after pulling up after only half an hour of the ESPRIT Arena encounter. His fears were confirmed on Sunday when a scan revealed the extent of the damage and condemned him to a three-week break. Heung-Min Son will also be missing on Tuesday night due to a thigh strain
"That could play into our hands,” quipped Jones. “But it’s going to be another tough game."
Hamburg: Adler - Diekmeier, Bruma, Westermann, Aogo - Badelj, Rincon - Beister, Arslan, Jansen - Rudnevs
Schalke: Unnerstall - Uchida, K. Papadopoulos, Höwedes, Fuchs - J. Jones, Neustädter - Farfan, Holtby, Draxler - Huntelaar