Kevin-Prince Boateng has been praised by teammates for playing a major role in Schalke’s 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen on Saturday after changing his side’s tactics during the first half.
The Royal Blues closed in on Bayern Munich in the second half of the season standings with the result, having now picked up 27 points since the winter break -- only four less than Bayern and one more than Borussia Dortmund.
And Jens Keller’s side now only need nine points from their last five Bundesliga games to guarantee qualification for next season’s Champions League.
Despite trailing to Bremen after only 15 minutes, with Franco Di Santo opening the scoring, Schalke came back into the game when Boateng, 27, decided to alter his side’s tactics.
The former AC Milan midfielder moved back into a more defensive role, and advised youngsters Julian Draxler and Leon Goretzka to also rotate their positions.
Draxler moved into central midfield, and Goretzka switched to the left wing, from where he went on to net Schalke’s equaliser after 33 minutes.
“The changes were right, we did not have a lot of control before that,” Schalke attacker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was quoted as saying by kicker. “Kevin just wins more balls in midfield than Leon for instance. It’s only a good thing to do to take initiative on the pitch.”
Keller echoed Huntelaar’s words as he told the press that sometimes changes from within the team are not a bad thing at all.
“That was impressive,” he said. “You can see that we have players who can think for themselves. I was pleased and during half-time I said: ‘Bravo! Good job.’”
Goretzka, 19, who has started in Schalke’s last nine Bundesliga games, also praised Boateng as a real leader.
“Kevin wanted to play in the No. 6 position to get more possession and get into the game more,” Goretzka said. “And I will certainly not question this.”