The Dutchman saw to it personally that his team were able to train on grass this week, clearing snow from the club’s training facilities while his players kept warm training indoors.
Stand up and be counted
Flakes of snow are the least of worries inside the Veltins Arena, though, where the closed roof can keep the elements out. Freiburg coach Christian Streich alluded to the freezing temperatures in his pre-match press conference, stating: "Flakes would be nice, but if you start to play flaky, then sooner or later [Jefferson] or [Julian] go shooting past your bench, and then Mr. gets on the ball and suddenly you're a goal down," he said.
Swift, ruthless attacks have not been on the agenda in recent weeks for the hosts though, with the Royal Blues falling off the pace on the back of a five-game winless run. The only way to avert further damage, according to Stevens, is to stand up and be counted. "In good times it’s always easy, but in bad times you’ve got to pull closer together, and that's what we’re doing. The players are their own biggest critics, but in a positive way."
"Anything is possible"
"All of the players want to help to ensure things start moving upwards again, and I can see and sense that in every day’s training - they have the will," continued the coach. However, ensuring the 16-point deficit on league leaders FC Bayern Munich does not increase will be easier said than done. "We're going to be missing a few lads," announced Stevens, referring to USA international Jermaine Jones (suspension) and Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who has a knee injury.
Farfan may not get the chance to demonstrate his turn of pace due to an ankle injury, although Stevens is still hopeful the Peruvian, creator of 73 chances for his team-mates already this season, will recover. Yet Freiburg, who have gone over two and a half months without losing on their travels, are keen to add to the Gelsenkirchen gloom and arrive in Schalke upbeat. "We have a great deal of self-confidence and I will say one thing: anything is possible," Streich concluded.
Schalke: Hildebrand - Uchida, Höwedes, Matip, Fuchs - Neustädter, Moritz - Obasi, Holtby, Draxler - Huntelaar
Freiburg: Baumann - Sorg, Krmas, Diagne, Hedenstad - Schuster, Makiadi - Schmid, Caligiuri - Kruse, Rosenthal