On Saturday, midfielder claimed “everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” yet in Europe, Schalke are a different proposition. The Gelsenkirchen outfit have impressed consistently and Wednesday’s match in the Veltins Arena offers them the opportunity to not only to put the Leverkusen display to bed but also to secure their passage to the knockout phases of Europe’s premier club competition.
Making waves in Europe
Schalke have surprised some observers with their successful negotiation of a difficult Group B. Leading the standings on eight points, they have recorded impressive away victories at Olympiacos as well as Arsenal, and need just one more win to qualify for the knockout rounds. "Our heads are clear and we want to get through with a game to spare. We want to show what we can deliver again," added a determined Neustädter.
Somewhat surprisingly, victory this week would represent the club’s first home win in the competition this term. On Matchday 2, they Blues had Montpellier on the ropes at 2-1 up, but allowed the French side a last-minute equaliser, before they had to show their own fighting spirit to claw back a two-goal deficit to rescue a 2-2 draw with Arsenal a fortnight ago.
Resilience a must
Fans and opponents will be well aware of the firepower Schalke possess in attack, with last season’s Bundesliga top scorer supported by a formidable ensemble cast including Jefferson Farfan, Julian Draxler and Lewis Holtby. However, Stevens’ side have conceded the first goal in their last four competitive matches, an issue that needs addressing as clean sheets become increasingly important as the Champions League progresses .
Neustädter’s midfield colleague, USA international is a player on whom defensive responsibilities fall, and he knows exactly what to expect from an Olympiacos side still in with a chance of qualifying themselves. "They’re a good team. We saw that in the first game, and they'll make life difficult for us," believes the 30-year-old. "[But] we have things in our own hands. If we put right what we did against Leverkusen, I’m sure we’ll win this game."
Schalke Unnerstall - Höwedes, Papadopoulos, Matip, Fuchs - Jones, Neustädter - Farfan, Holtby, Draxler - Huntelaar
Olympiacos Carroll - Torosidis, Contreras, Manolas, Holebas - Maniatis, Modesto - Abdoun, David Fuster, Paulo Machado - Mitroglou