Gelsenkirchen - After being knocked out of the DFB Cup by third-tier side SG Dynamo Dresden and suffering a 2-1 reverse against Hannover 96 on Matchday 1, FC Schalke 04 find themselves in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons so far this season, and things aren’t about to get any easier for the UEFA Champions League participants.
Stutter start to the season
Ahead of welcoming reigning Bundesliga champions FC Bayern München to the Veltins Arena on Sunday, Julian Draxler had a clear message for his side. “We have to stick together and push on,” stated the World Cup winner in an interview with schalke04.de.
Whilst accepting that the Royal Blues’ start to the 2014/15 campaign has been far from ideal, the 20-year-old stressed that there’s no need to panic: “We imagined things going a lot differently, but the season is long. It’s a difficult situation because a lot of the World Cup participants were late in joining up with the team. Us national team players have some catching up to do.”
However, with international stars in abundance throughout Germany’s top flight, Draxler was quick to point out that a lack of match sharpness was “not an excuse” for Schalke’s below-par performances thus far. “There are plenty of areas that we need to improve in - that’s what training’s for,” said the highly-rated youngster. “The fact is that we need to invest more in matches and demonstrate a greater willingness to work hard.”
White flag not flying
According to Draxler, that willingness to put everything on the line was key to the Royal Blues’ recovery in the second half of last season, which saw them clinch a in the Bundesliga. It’s also what the attacking midfielder is hoping Schalke can tap into this term, having lost their opening fixture for a fifth consecutive season. “We now have to prove that we’re capable of making a comeback once again, and I’m sure that we will buck the trend.”
Though the timing is far from perfect, the youngest player to break the 100-appearance barrier in the Bundesliga isn’t ruling out the possibility of taking points off FC Bayern this weekend. “I’m hopeful that we will have the chance to be successful,” he said. “We’re all working really hard to make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes we did in Hannover. We have to pull ourselves together and put an end to this negative trend.”