Schalke 04 desperately need a home win over Benfica in Wednesday’s Champions League match to help put their season back on track while striker Raul is hoping to keep scoring.
A 2-2 draw with Moenchengladbach on Saturday finally lifted Schalke off the bottom of the Bundesliga after losing their first four league games while they lost their opening Champions League match to Lyon a fortnight ago.
His side has just four points from six games, but against ‘Gladbach veteran Spain striker Raul scored his first goal for the club after waiting 599 minutes and he wants more against Benfica in the Group B match.
“I really wanted that first goal and I am relieved that I did it,” said the Spaniard, who was off-loaded by Real Madrid in the off-season.
Coach Felix Magath has built his team around the 33-year-old and hopes he will show more of the form which earned him 228 goals for Real in 550 league matches and 66 Champions League goals.
“Now it’s easier for me,” added Raul.
The Royal Blues are determined to make a better start to their home campaign in European football’s most lucrative tournament than three years ago while Benfica will want to improve on their poor record in Germany.
When they last played in the Champions League’s group stages three years ago, Schalke failed to score in their first two home games.
Benfica have not won in Germany in 17 competitive attempts, but they opened their Champions League campaign by beating Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in Lisbon two weeks ago.
In the Portuguese league, Benfica celebrated a 1-0 away win at Maritimo on Saturday as full-back Fabio Coentrao got the all-important goal in the 58th minute of a hard-fought contest.
Jorge Jesus’s side now sit in fifth place in the Portuguese table on nine points from six matches, but already find themselves nine points behind leaders Porto.
On Wednesday, Schalke will be without defender Benedikt Hoewdes who is banned after being sent off in the first-half of the 1-0 defeat in Lyon when he was shown a straight red for a dangerous tackle.
History is on Schalke’s side: they have met Portuguese opponents in European competition on three occasions and emerged triumphant each time.
The last encounter was in the 2007/08 Champions League last 16 against FC Porto, when both legs ended 1-0 in favour of the home side. Schalke went through 4-1 on penalties at the end of the second leg in Portugal.
Benfica have played 32 games against Bundesliga opposition, but have never won in Germany in 17 attempts, their record showing six draws and 11 defeats.
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