Gelsenkirchen - Schalke 04 will be looking to build on their good start to the domestic season as they begin their UEFA Champions League campaign away to Greek champions Olympiacos FC on Tuesday evening (kick-off 20:45 CEST).

History is not on the Royal Blues' side, however, at least insofar as that they have lost the opening game on each of the four previous occasions they have taken part in the group phase of the Champions League.

Upbeat Blues


There is nonetheless an air of optimism in Huub Stevens' squad after Saturday's 2-0 win at Greuther Fürth. "We're well prepared," skipper said, stressing that, after reaching the semi-finals in 2011, the team had got a definite taste for Europe's elite club competition: "We've put in a lot of hard work to get the chance to participate."

Despite the side having collected seven points in three Bundesliga matches and progressing to the second round of the DFB Cup, sporting director Horst Heldt gas made a point of dampening down expectations, claiming that Arsenal are clear favourites in a group that also features French champions Montpellier HSC. "There are three teams competing for second place," the 42-year-old said, "so it's essential to have a good start."

Home from home


Olympiacos' fans are renowned for creating an intimidating atmosphere at the Karaiskakis Stadium and the 39-time Greek champions are particularly strong at home. However, Schalke's Greece international defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos, returning to his former stomping ground, is not overly concerned: "We play in front of twice the amount of supporters at our VELTINS Arena," he told bundesliga.com in an exclusive interview. "Our fans create just as much atmosphere."

Peruvian winger is expected to return to the first eleven after being rested against Greuther Fürth and there will be fierce competition for the remaining two spots in attacking midfield behind lone striker Klass-Jan Huntelaar. Lewis Holtby and Julian Draxler both scored at the weekend, while new recruit Ibrahim Afellay is also vying for a berth.

Olympiacos have had an equally good start to their season and recorded their third win against PAS Giannina last week - although they did look vulnerable at the back in their 2-1 victory.


Possible line-ups

Olympiacos: Carroll - Torosidis, Contreras, Siovas, Holebas - Modesto, Maniatis - Abdoun, Ibagaza, Paulo Machado - Djebbour

Schalke: Unnerstall - Höwedes, K. Papadopoulos, Matip, Fuchs - Neustädter, Jones - Farfan, Holtby, Afellay - Huntelaar