Schalke 04 coach Roberto Di Matteo says that his side will be going for the win against Real Madrid during tomorrow’s Champions League Round of 16 first leg in Gelsenkirchen.
Even though Di Matteo feels that the reigning European champions will be heavy favorites against his German club, he is urging his players to step on to the pitch at the Veltins Arena with a “winner’s mentality”.
“All of the players are able to take part in today’s session, so no change in relation to our last league game in the Bundesliga [a 1-0 loss to Eintracht on Valentine’s Day],” the Schalke coach said during his pre-match press conference today.
“We’ll be going out there with a winner’s mentality – we’ll be looking to win this first leg while knowing that we’re up against a great rival.”
“Both of these two matches represent a great opportunity for Schalke to put ourselves on the map. Madrid are always going to be favorites but we’re an experienced side and we have to go out and show it on the pitch tomorrow.”
Despite recent lackluster performances and injuries to key members of their squad, Di Matteo is fully aware of the attacking threat posed by Real Madrid.
“We’re playing the defending champions, they want to defend the trophy but our objective is to win this first leg in our stadium,” Di Matteo added. “We’ll be attempting to exploit Madrid’s weak points. We’ve studied their last few games – Madrid are still a competitive side; we have to focus on ourselves and continue working on our own plans.”
Di Matteo will be looking to reverse his side’s Champions League performance from last year, when Schalke were eliminated by Real Madrid in the Round of 16 by an aggregate score of 9-2.
The 44-year-old tactician’s greatest moment as a manager/coach came in 2012 when he steered Chelsea to double title success; winning both the FA Cup and the club’s first-ever Champions League title.
Programming note: Schalke 04 vs. Real Madrid will be shown LIVE on Wednesday, February 18th at 2:45pm EST on FOX Sports 1 and FoxSoccer2Go.
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