27 August 2014 18:38
Benedikt Howedes views Saturday’s Bundesliga clash with champions Bayern Munich as a great opportunity to lift the gloom at Schalke.
The Gelsenkirchen club have endured a miserable start to the season, as they were dumped out of the DFB-Pokal in the first round by 3. Liga side Dynamo Dresden and then suffered a 2-1 defeat at Hannover in their Bundesliga opener.
To make matters worse, left-back Sead Kolasinac suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee at the HDI-Arena to join Jefferson Farfan, Leon Goretzka, Fabian Giefer and Atsuto Uchida on the injury list.
Schalke general manager Horst Heldt backed coach Jens Keller following the defeat to Hannover and defender Howedes is determined to put things right when Pep Guardiola’s side visit the Veltins-Arena this weekend.
The Schalke captain told the club’s official website: “We’re obviously not happy with the situation, we have to be clear about that. If we work hard, then we’ll surely be back on the right path.
“As a result of a tough pre-season, the World Cup participants’ late return to the team and a long list of injuries, the team need more time to find their rhythm again. We’re really working hard.”
World-Cup winner Howedes has urged his team-mates to win the battle against the Bavarian giants and believes facing the champions so early in the season could work in their favour.
“We need this aggressiveness against Bayern,” said Howedes. “We need to win one-on-one challenges so we don’t give them the opportunity to make developments.
“Not every player will be at 100 per cent. The World Cup players have only recently returned to training, but as we saw in the Wolfsburg match [Bayern won 2-1], they have the quality to score at the right moment.
“We have to be ready because of this. We have to balance out Bayern’s individual quality with our passion.”
Bayern, who started the defence of their Bundesliga title with victory over Wolfsburg last Friday, could hand a debut to defender Mehdi Benatia following his move from Roma.
Roger Schmidt masterminded a 2-0 victory at Borussia Dortmund in his first Bundesliga game in charge of Bayer Leverkusen and he will be demanding a repeat performance when his side host Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
The former Red Bull Salzburg coach watched Karim Bellarabi fire Leverkusen in front after only nine seconds – a Bundesliga record – and Sebastian Kiessling sealed the points deep into stoppage time to stun Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Hertha looked set to start with a victory when Julian Schieber’s double put them in command against Werder Bremen, but the visitors scored twice in as many second-half minutes to secure a 2-2 draw.
Klopp warned that Dortmund have a lot of work to do following their opening-day defeat and he will be expecting a response at Augsburg, who were beaten 2-0 at Hoffenheim last weekend, on Friday.
Hoffenheim will be out to make it two wins out of two at Werder Bremen on Saturday, while Hannover aim to build on their encouraging start with a victory at Mainz on Sunday.
Wolfsburg host Eintracht Frankfurt, Stuttgart entertain Cologne and newly promoted Paderborn travel to Hamburg in the other games to be played on Saturday, with Borussia Monchengladbach at Freiburg in the second game on Sunday.