Augsburg - If winning games while not playing at your best is the sign of a good team, then FC Schalke 04 certainly fit that bill in Matchday 25’s opener at FC Augsburg on Friday night.
After overcoming a sluggish start, and helped by some profligacy on the part of their hosts, Schalke came away from the SGL Arena with a 2-1 win in the bag. While the result may not have much bearing on their upcoming UEFA Champions League run-out at Real Madrid, it was a victory that gave star midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng a great deal of satisfaction. In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the 27-year-old lavished praise on a young but plucky team that ground out a win against their determined hosts, as well as lauding the contribution of two-goal hero Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
bundesliga.com: Kevin-Prince Boateng, how difficult was this game?
Kevin-Prince Boateng: It was really difficult, a really tough game, but we knew it would be. Augsburg played really well and they were very strong. Fortunately luck was on our side tonight.
bundesliga.com: How important a win was this in view of your lengthy injury list? Atsuto Uchida, Jefferson Farfan and Christian Fuchs, to name a few, were all out injured.
Boateng: I think we need to stop talking about injuries. We have a lot of young players and that was a strong team out on the pitch tonight, which was why we won.
bundesliga.com: How do you rate Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s contribution today?
Boateng: That’s why he’s ‘The Hunter’, he hunts. He did it twice today and with him in the side we’ve always got a chance of winning games because he’s always in the right place.
bundesliga.com: Schalke finished the game with three youngsters in Leon Goretzka, Max Meyer and Kaan Ayhan on the pitch. As an older player, you must relish the challenge of leading the younger guys into the action.
Boateng: Of course. Leon and Max are two players with a lot of quality and it’s important for them to be playing and get used to playing at this level. Today they both did that, as did Kaan Ayhan, whom I also think is a fantastic player.
bundesliga.com: Are you hoping for clubs around you to slip up again this week, such as Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Munich?
Boateng: We’re not hoping for anything, we’re just focusing on ourselves. If we do our job, we’ll finish where we deserve to finish.
bundesliga.com: You face Real Madrid in the Bernabeu next week, needing to overturn a 6-1 deficit in the UEFA Champions League. Can this result be a positive influence on your preparation for that game?
Boateng: There’s no comparing the games in this league with anything else. We’re playing in the Bundesliga, one of the toughest leagues in the world. It doesn’t prepare us for Real Madrid; we’re just happy we can go there with a positive result.
bundesliga.com: What are your emotions ahead of travelling to Madrid for your midweek match-up?
Boateng: Right now I’m not thinking about that. I just want to celebrate this victory.
Bernie Reeves reporting from the SGL Arena