Schalke dug themselves into a pretty big hole last Thursday when they lost to Ajax in Amsterdam. But young midfielder Leon Goretzka is hoping the home crowd can give them a boost in the second leg of their quarterfinal.After conceding two goals and failing to score in Amsterdam last week, Schalke will have a lot of work to do when they host Ajax in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday.
But the Royal Blues have already achieved a comeback in the Europa League. They overcame an early 0-2 deficit against Bundesliga rival Borussia Mönchengladbach before tying the game and advancing on away goals.
Schalke youngster Leon Goretzka has confidence they can turn this tie around too, and the home crowd will be key in doing that.
“When our fans create an atmosphere in the stadium and the buzz carries to the team, there can be something that overwhelms Ajax,” Goretzka said. “We will hope for this and show from the first seconds that we haven’t given up.”
Schalke, UEFA Cup winners in 1997, haven’t reached the last four of a European competition since 2010-11 Champions League. They are also not in the best of form, having lost to Bundesliga bottomfeeders Darmstadt last weekend.
The German side may have to attempt their comeback without their captain, Benedikt Höwedes. Speaking in a press conference on Wednesday, Schalke coach Markus Weinzierl called Höwedes “doubtful”, also adding that star defender Sead Kolasinac is “50-50”.
Teenage defender Thilo Kehrer, who has become an integral part of Weinzierl’s defense in recent weeks, is also suspended. That leaves injury-prone defenders Holger Badstuber and Matija Nastasic as the only two central defenders available for Schalke.
“We are now outsiders, but it is definitely possible,” Weinzierl said. “We believe it and will play for victory.”
Other quarterfinal second legs:
Manchester United (1) vs. (1) RSC Anderlecht
KRC Genk (2) vs. (3) Celta Vigo
Besiktas (1) vs. (2) Olympique Lyonnais