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Nov 4, 2013

Schalke focus on defence for Blues trip

Benedikt Hoewedes has indicated that Schalke will park the bus at Chelsea on Wednesday, with midfielder Julian Draxler admitting: “We are the clear outsiders.”

Schalke endured an evening to forget when Chelsea visited the Veltins-Arena last month.
Schalke endured an evening to forget when Chelsea visited the Veltins-Arena last month.

Schalke secured a confidence boost at the weekend, claiming a 2-0 win at Hertha Berlin that staved off talk of a crisis after back-to-back home defeats to Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund.

Schalke have now taken 16 points from their last eight Bundesliga games, losing only to Bayern Munich and Dortmund, and Hoewedes is hoping they can now make amends for their 3-0 Champions League defeat to the Blues in Gelsenkirchen a fortnight ago.

“We still have a bit to make up for,” the Royal Blues captain said. “We lost the first leg, which was a bit annoying because we had many good chances to score.”

However, he indicated that defence would be the first priority, adding: “We now want to keep a clean sheet, be compact at the back and become dangerous with our counter attacks.”

Draxler, meanwhile, stressed that the victory over Hertha was not cause to get carried away ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge.

“Winning here does not mean we are on a par with Chelsea,” he told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We are the clear outsiders.”

Nonetheless, the 20-year-old’s performance was perhaps the biggest boost for Schalke given his previous lack of form, with the Germany international’s late goal on the counter sealing the victory.

“My performances in recent weeks have not been acceptable, especially in the derby [against Dortmund] last week,” he said. “I have taken a long, hard look at a couple of things, and tried to run more and to invest more. I was rewarded with a goal.”

Draxler also revealed he had worked to address some off-field distractions.

“I dealt with some issues in my private life and argued with a few people,” he said. “I don’t want to say any more about it. I think that I am back on the right track, but this was only the beginning.”

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