Schalke boss Markus Weinzierl has urged his players to be bold and “aggressive” in order to keep Borussia Dortmund quiet in Sunday’s Ruhr derby clash.
The Bundesliga meeting at Signal Iduna Park in October saw Schalke blunt Dortmund’s formidable attack, with the home side failing to muster a shot in the first half.
Sunday’s encounter – the 150th meeting between the two rivals – could be crucial to Schalke’s hopes of a European spot this season, with the Bundesliga top six four points ahead of them despite their 1-0 win over Mainz prior to the international break.
By contrast, BVB have won four of their last five league matches, scoring 14 goals in that run, to keep to within three points of second-placed RB Leipzig, leaders Bayern Munich a further 13 clear.
Weinzierl, however, says his players are fired up for the visit of Thomas Tuchel’s side and has called on them to repeat the performance they delivered earlier in the campaign.
Asked how Schalke will cope with Dortmund’s speed in attack, Weinzierl told a news conference: “Like in the first game against them, where we played a great game and didn’t concede a single shot in the first half.
“That’s the key to success: to defend bravely, be aggressive and keep the pressure away from our goal.
“Of course, you need individual class as well, a good goalkeeper, some luck and good one-on-one situations.
— FC Schalke 04 (@s04_en) March 30, 2017
“I can only speak about my team and they know the meaning of the game. We performed at 100 per cent in the first game, our play was led by emotion and it will be the same on Saturday and we’ll see who’s better.
“We use the emotional side and I think the players can feel it. The last few days were only about the derby and that affects everybody, the coaching staff as well.
“That emotion is important for the game, the players and everybody’s fired up from it.”
Speculation persists over the future of striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, with the 33-year-old having failed to complete 90 minutes in the Bundesliga since September, despite having recovered from a knee injury that kept him sidelined for three months.
Weinzierl dismissed the notion that Huntelaar has unsettled the team with his reaction to a substitute role and instead praised the form of Guido Burgstaller, who has managed four goals and two assists in nine league appearances since joining from Nurnberg in January.
“I see a team who lose together and win together. You need good players and we have them,” he said.
“With Burgstaller, we signed a player who took his chance while other players were injured – one of them was Huntelaar. He missed three to four months due to his knee injury and that put you back.
“We know about Huntelaar’s amazing scoring rate within the box and that he’s lethal in front of goal, but we’re happy to have a back-up.”
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