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Depleted Schalke look to reel in Leverkusen

Schalke coach Jens Keller has called for an improved performance from his team ahead of their encounter with Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

The 2009/10 Bundesliga runners-up accounted for lowly Werder Bremen 2-0 last week, their fifth win from six league outings.

Schalke occupy fourth position in the table and can close to within a solitary point of fellow Champions League hopefuls Leverkusen with victory at the weekend.

But Keller says Schalke will need to be at their best if they are to avenge November’s 2-0 loss.

“We need to show a different game or a different spirit than in the first half in Bremen,” Keller told reporters.

“Leverkusen will be a tougher contender than Bremen for sure and I think that they will punish us for mistakes like we did in the first half against Bremen.

“I’m sure the team understand that and they showed what they are able to do in the second half. We did video analysis of that game and I expect that we will play a different game this time.”

Schalke have a number of injury concerns heading into Saturday’s clash and Keller admits he will need to field a depleted side.

“We have many problems with injured players at the moment,” he said. “Jefferson Farfan will not be able to play.

“There is a big question mark behind Jermaine Jones. Christoph Metzelder is not 100 percent.

“Tranquillo Barnetta is not back yet either and none of the players who missed the match last week have returned yet.”

Despite the worries, Keller is confident his injury-ravaged squad can cope.

“We have one or two options left, no doubt about,” he added.

“So we will have a team on the pitch that has quality that wants to win and is prepared to compete. But we are hoping for no more injured players.”

Meanwhile, general manager Horst Heldt has criticised the poor refereeing decisions that led to Borussia Dortmund advancing ahead of Malaga in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Dortmund claimed a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Spaniards, courtesy of Felipe Santana’s offside-goal well into stoppage time.

Afterwards, Malaga lodged an official complaint to UEFA over the standard of refereeing.

“Of course I am happy for the German football, that we have two teams in the semi-final of the Champions League,” said Heldt.

“But the decisions that led to this coming true, they should have never happened. It should never happen on such level … where it’s about so much money too.

“That is also important, but how often do you have the possibility to get to semi-final. I can imagine the feeling.

“I know from my own experience and I see it when I talk to the players. This is a really tough one to take. I think its nuts, it really is.”

Thu 11 April, 2013
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