Schalke head coach Domenico Tedesco is already thinking ahead to the club’s UEFA Champions League group stage opponents, saying he would particularly look forward to a trip to Real Madrid’s Bernabeu or Barcelona’s Camp Nou next season.
It has been a remarkable year for the Royal Blue boss. Just over 12 months ago he had rescued Erzebirge Aue from certain Bundesliga 2 relegation during just two months in charge of his first senior team. Now he is preparing Schalke for a European campaign after finishing second in the Bundesliga.
Speaking to kicker, the Italy-born coach joked, “I’ve heard that Juventus’ new stadium isn’t bad,” before going on to add, “but getting the chance to see the Bernabeu or Camp Nou from inside would definitely be great.”
The fact that Schalke will even have the chance to visit such famous stadiums in Europe after a year’s absence is down to Tedesco’s impact at the club. However, it is not just the second-place finish that he will be remembered for in Gelsenkirchen, but the dethroning of arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund as the Ruhr region’s powerhouse in 2017/18 by finishing above them for the first time since 2015.
A 2-0 home win over BVB all but ensured the Royal Blues would finish above their rivals this season, but it is the 4-4 draw in Dortmund that will live long in the memory. From 4-0 down at half-time, Tedesco rallied his troops to secure one of the greatest comebacks in Bundesliga history.
Watch: Highlights of that incredible 4-4 draw
It was a result that paved the way back to Europe, and one Tedesco described as “a simply gigantic game. One where we felt we grew as a team.”
Yet despite the success this season under the man who finished top of his coaching class ahead of Hoffenheim counterpart Julian Nagelsmann, Tedesco claims the club remain grounded and are not ones to overly celebrate. “It’s a mark of the club that we acknowledge the performance of the opponent when we lose, but we also win with style. That means no jibes from us, and we’ll continue to show humility and modesty.”
You wonder if those words may well slip his mind should Schalke beat Madrid or Barcelona in next season’s Champions League.