Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco has banished talk of an impending relegation battle ahead of his side’s big Bundesliga derby against leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Tedesco’s men go into the game languishing in the 12th place in the table, a far cry from last season’s second place finish behind runaway champions Bayern Munich.
But the Schalke coach believes his side can take advantage of the unique derby occasion to shatter the stunning start by Lucien Favre’s men – and begin Schalke’s move back up the table.
Tedesco told a press conference: “We have to say Dortmund have made a good start to the season but everything is possible in the derby.
“I don’t like the term ‘relegation battle’. Last year I did not react when people talked about us challenging Bayern, or even about challenging for a Champions League place.
“Our target is always to make the next game good, but of course it is true that our bad start to the season has been a burden.”
Schalke go into the game on the back of last weekend’s draw at Hoffenheim which helped restore their confidence following a hugely disappointing Champions League defeat in Porto.
There have been no such worries for Favre’s side this season and Dortmund go into the derby on top of the Bundesliga and looking to seal their fifth straight league win.
For Favre, who has been credited with revolutionising his side’s displays during his short spell in charge, it will be the first taste of derby action.
“Everyone tells me it is an important game,” said Favre. “A derby is always a special occasion.”
Favre may not be able to recall Dan-Axel Zagadou who is still struggling with injury, but Thomas Delaney and Jacob Bruun are expected to shake off knocks. Marius Wolf is also back, but there is a doubt over Jadon Sancho who missed some time with the club this week following a family bereavement.