“There’s no taking it easy,” Vincenzo Grifo said after Thursday’s intense 1-1 draw against Olympiacos. SC had just reached the round of 16 in the Europa League for the first time in club history, but the focus was already shifting to Sunday’s opponents.
SC will play five games in the 15 days left before the mid-season break: four in the Bundesliga and one in the Europa League. “Winning our group has us feeling good, and we can fly to Azerbaijan with peace of mind,” Grifo said ahead of the team’s final group stage match in Baku next Thursday.
Before then, the team will be focused on taking three points off Schalke on Sunday evening. The Royal Blues may be bottom of the table and with a new head coach, but Grifo made clear that SC were not taking it lightly. “They have a new head coach and will be extremely motivated. We need to be alert in order to pick up three points again,” he said.
Captain Christian Günter echoed this sentiment, saying that the team “will give it everything against Schalke on Sunday” in what will be a “tough game” against an unpredictable opponent.
There is always much talk in German football about the mythical ’40 point mark,’ a tally a team must reach in order to not be drawn into a relegation battle. Thanks to a 2-0 win against Werder last weekend, SC currently have 21 points from 11 matches –another reason why they will be feeling confident heading into the home stretch ahead of the winter break.
Photo: Achim Keller