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Schalke aim to bounce back for Montpellier

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03 Oct 2012 03:48:33

Schalke aim to bounce back for Montpellier

Schalke 04 host Montpellier in Group B of the Champions League on Wednesday with the Royal Blues looking for a second successive European win on the back of a poor performance in the German league.

Both Schalke and Montpellier were on different ends of 2-1 scorelines when they started their European campaigns a fortnight ago as the Royal Blues of Schalke won at Olympiakos while Montpellier lost at home to Arsenal.

Schalke won all three home group games when they reached the Champions League's last four in 2011 and are looking to pick up their second straight win to take control of the group.

Montpellier warmed up for their trip to Gelsenkirchen with a 2-0 win at Nancy on Saturday, their first win in four Ligue 1 games, while Schalke were held 2-2 at newly promoted Fortuna Dusseldorf last Friday.

After a poor display, Schalke's players were taken to task by general manager Horst Heldt, with the draw leaving them fourth in the Bundesliga, with the players clearly at odds with each other.

"Recriminations amongst ourselves do not help anyone, everyone has their job to do," said Schalke captain Benedikt Hoewdes.

"It is not necessary for us to shout and attack each other in the dressing room.

"Of course we have to address what went wrong and learn from our mistakes, so they don't happen again."

Holland striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who scored the winner at Olympiakos, said Schalke must build on the win in Greece against Montpellier with their next game against Arsenal coming on October 24.

"We made a good start in the Champions League with the victory over Olympiakos, now we want to get our first home win against Montpellier, so we have to do better than in the second half in Dusseldorf," he said.

The statistics are against Montpellier who have won just one and lost five of their last nine matches in European competition.

The French champions have garnered just eight points from their first seven matches to leave them 13th in Ligue 1, but Hoewdes said the hosts can ill afford to be complacent.

"Montpellier are a relatively unknown opponent, but anyone who has been French champions cannot be underestimated," he said.

"It is our goal to have six points after the first two matches, giving us a good starting position for the other group games."

Schalke are boosted by the return of Peru striker Jefferson Farfan, who was missing in Dusseldorf with an ankle injury, while teenager Julian Draxler is expected to start.

Montpellier coach Rene Girard will still be without key forward John Utaka, who has a thigh injury, but believes the ending of their winless run will have given the players the boost they needed.

"It is good for the morale," he said of the victory.

"We have a difficult match awaiting us in Schalke, we know it will not be easy but it is another competition. I know that we will turn up and give a good account of ourselves, there is no concern about that."


AFP

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