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According to head coach Peter Bosz, the fitness of his players is of great significance looking at the forthcoming fixtures. "Energy is very important for the way we play. We need that energy to be successful at the end of the season. After the shutdown due to coronavirus, all teams are finding it difficult to get into a rhythm. That's true. But we're doing well on that front," said the Dutchman at the virtual pre-match press conference.
Behind closed doors at the Veltins Arena on Sunday night, the Werkself will be looking to build on the impressive performance in the DFB Cup semi-final at FC Saarbrücken (3-0). Schalke have not won in the Bundesliga since 17 January and have only picked up one point from five games since the Bundesliga restart. "It's difficult to say what we'll face. Schalke in the second half of the season are very different to the Schalke from the first half of the season," said Bosz, whose team were two points behind the Royal Blues at the winter break and are now 18 points ahead. "It's clear that confidence is lacking at the moment. But they have nothing much else to lose."
Bosz, who always focuses on his own team in the build up to a match, will have to manage with at least two players against Schalke 04: Skipper Lars Bender is still sidelined through injury. Karim Bellarabi is also ruled out for the away game at Schalke. The winger picked up a thigh injury in the cup semi-final on Tuesday. Bosz explained: "I haven't got a full diagnosis as yet. His thigh tightened in the cup game. In the moment, I can't say whether he will be able to play in the next three weeks."
In addition, Exequiel Palacios missed today's training session due to illness. Kai Havertz was back on the training ground with the squad this morning. "But we only did light training this morning. We have to be careful and I can't say anything definite about Kai," said Bosz about yesterday's birthday boy.
The race for a Champions League slot is in full swing. Before Bayer 04 kick-off in Gelsenkirchen, Champions League rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach play FC Bayern on Saturday night (kick-off:18.30 CET). "When you see a direct rival like Gladbach are playing away in Munich then that might offer the opportunity to go ahead of them. But there's no point at looking what they do if we don't beat Schalke," declared Bosz.
Broadcasters: Sky and Werkself Radio (bayer04.de)
Referee: The referee will be announced on the day of the game.
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