Schalke are embracing the role of underdogs for Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Manchester City with the Bundesliga strugglers promising not to raise a white flag against the reigning Premier League champions.
UEFA Champions League
Schalke have failed to win in their last four league games, leaving them 14th in the Bundesliga table, and they are having difficulty scoring goals.
City, in contrast, have hit a rich vein of form and were described by Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri as “the best team in Europe” after they thrashed his side 6-0 ten days ago, but Schalke insist they will not roll over in the last 16, first leg match at the Veltins Arena.
“The best team at the moment in Europe is coming, but we won’t raise the white flag,” said Schalke striker Guido Bergstaller, back after an injury lay-off.
Coach Domenico Tedesco says Schalke have nothing to lose.
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“There is nothing like a knockout match in the Champions League against a team that is one of the best in the world,” said 33-year-old Tedesco.
“We’ve worked a lot to be able to play such a game and have fun.
“Logically, we see a chance of winning, but of course we aren’t the favourites.
“Man City are a very strong team, we’ll need a red-letter day and have to give it our all.”
Tedesco has opted to restore club captain Ralf Faehrmann in goal against City’s star-studded attack featuring Sergio Aguero and former Schalke player Leroy Sane, having previously dropped the fan favourite for Germany Under-21 keeper Alexander Nuebel.
Schalke last reached the Champions League semi-finals back in 2011 and are under no illusions of the task they face.
“Basically, City are an enormously strong team,” said Tedesco. “Everyone knows where everyone else is running.
“Whether it’s a Sane, a Bernardo, a (Raheem) Sterling, they are similar types of players who are comfortable one-on-one and have a certain speed and quality.”
Tedesco gave little away as to whether new signing, Welsh winger Rabbi Matondo, 18, who joined from City last month having never made a senior appearance for the Citizens, could face his old club.
“Rabbi only was born in 2000 and we watched him for a long time,” said Tedesco.
“He’s a very, very young player, he needs to be patient, but we need to be patient and we will.”