Gelsenkirchen - Max Meyer’s second-half opener against Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday evening set the Royal Blues on their way to a comfortable 2-0 victory over the Eagles, moving Jens Keller’s side level on points with Borussia Dortmund in third place.
After the match at the Veltins Arena, the Royal Blues rising star spoke to the assembled media about his goal, as well as Schalke’s hopes of finishing above their bitter rivals in the league this season…
Question:Max Meyer, Schalke dominated Frankfurt after the break and deservedly won the match, but there were very few goalscoring opportunities in the first half. What was going on?
Max Meyer: We played a bit too slowly in the first half. We didn’t pass the ball enough, we struggled to play through the centre and often failed to pick out the right pass. Frankfurt were very compact and looked to hit us on the counter-attack. It was really difficult for us, but we played with a lot more pace after the restart. We caused Frankfurt a few more problems and eventually made it 1-0.
Question: You scored the opening goal yourself. Were you waiting for Frankfurt keeper [Kevin] Trapp to make the first move before you shot?
Meyer: I wanted to hit the ball back across the keeper. I also tried to hit it on the bounce so he couldn’t get his foot to it. It’s important not to think too much when you’re presented with chances like that, and I didn’t. I’m happy to have scored, but I’d prefer to get on the score sheet again next weekend.
Question: There was a bit of an unusual incident after your goal. Schalke players and fans were celebrating Draxler’s goal to make it 2-0, but the referee chalked the goal off about two minutes later. What did you make of the decision?
Meyer: When I saw the referee running towards the linesman, I knew he would disallow the goal. He then indicated that he’d seen the replay on the big screen. It was definitely offside, they got that absolutely right, so huge compliments to the officials.
Question: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has now missed four of his last six penalties. Would you prefer to take the next one yourself?
Meyer: Klaas has stuck away penalties in the past. Things like that happen. I often took penalties for the youth team, but I don’t think I’ll be allowed to take our penalties as an 18-year-old. I presume Jefferson Farfan will take the next spot-kick, but if someone asks me to take it, I’ll be happy to do so.
Question: You’ve had a bit of a rest recently and made an appearance off the bench against Bremen [on Matchday 29]. Are you now back to full fitness and ready for the final few games of the season?
Meyer: The break definitely did me good. I felt a lot livelier against Frankfurt than I did in our last home game against Berlin, but that’s normal. I’m still a young player and if I play so many games in such a short space of time, I struggle a little bit. But I’m happy to be back in the starting line-up and think I played pretty well.
Question: Is the prospect of finishing second an added motivation?
Meyer: Our aim is to play Champions League football again next season. We’ve taken a big step towards that objective with victory over Frankfurt. We’re level on points with Dortmund and if it stays that way until the end of the weekend, we’ll definitely be aiming for second place.
Question: Is the runners-up spot a realistic aim for Schalke?
Meyer: If you look at our points tally, it’s definitely realistic. It’d be great for our fans to finish above Dortmund, and it would be good for us as well. It would be nice to finish second behind Bayern, but it’s important to finish in the top three to qualify for the Champions League. If we play like we did against Frankfurt in the remaining matches, I can’t imagine anyone will catch us at the top.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Gelsenkirchen
Julian Draxler thought he had doubled Schalke's lead before Jefferson Farfan curled home a late free-kick, but his goal was eventually ruled out by the officials. Find out what happened on the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: