Markus Gisdol on…
Schalke have played a lot of matches in a short period of time. As a result, they may be slightly fatigued. If this is the case, we need to exploit it. We don't really know what to expect though. There's not often a middle ground at Schalke; there can be a sudden uproar, but they start partying just as quickly – perhaps that's become a characteristic of the club. It's really only quiet there on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
The squad will be the same as the one I had available to me in Mainz. Ermin Bicakcic trained once with the team on Tuesday, but had to stay in bed on Wednesday due to a high temperature. We'll keep an eye on the situation and see whether he'll be ready to play on Saturday. Sejad Salihovic will definitely be unavailable (knee wound) and the same goes for Jin-Su Kim (currently taking part in the Asian Games).
…the current situation at TSG:
We've had to do some experimenting lately, especially with the back four. We tried a lot of things during pre-season, but the current formation was definitely not one of them. The boys have been playing well in it though. We've kept three clean sheets this season and we're starting to find our rhythm now. We're becoming a lot more defensively stable. We still have a lot of work to do though – we want to combine this stability with some of the ruthless counterattacking we demonstrated last season so that we're more flexible. That goes for the height of our defensive line and also how high up the pitch we attack. This will be something we will be working on all season.
Adam Szalai on…
It's been an up and down season for Schalke so far. They have been average in the league, were strong against Chelsea in the Champions League, beat Dortmund, and then drew 1-1 against Maribor at home. A crisis is declared quicker in Gelsenkirchen than anywhere else.
…the current situation:
I'm not quite satisfied with my performances so far. TSG's style is new for me and my teammates are new. However, I've learnt a lot already. I'm looking to adapt my skills to TSG's style and to implement this as well as possible. I do what Markus Gisdol and the team wants from me, to give 100%. That's my aim. We work intensively against the ball as a team, everyone has to work together. Goals are great for me as a striker, but the success of the team takes priority.
The WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Schalke. How many times have they won there? The answer is none. TSG have won two of their six meetings in Kraichgau, with the other four ending in draws. The teams have met 13 times before; 12 times have been in the league, once in the DFB Cup. The overall record stands at five TSG wins, four draws and four defeats. Hoffenheim's best result against the Royal Blues came in the Veltins Arena last season, when they won 3-1.
After six matches, Schalke are tenth in the table with eight points. They have conceded ten goals already, which is too high for a team of their standard. Despite current form, Jens Keller's side are still dangerous. They showed this in the away game against Chelsea on matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League, which ended in a 1-1 draw. They also achieved an excellent 2-1 victory in the derby against Borussia Dortmund last weekend. Keller has been haunted by an injury crisis; many of his senior players have had to sit matches out this year. The likes of Atsuto Uchida and Dennis Aogo have already made their returns though. Sidney Sam is still unavailable for selection.
The key battles:
Schalke have three excellent attackers who can change the game in the blink of an eye: Julian Draxler, Max Meyer and Kevin-Prince Boateng. Having said that, they do find it difficult to break down well organised defences, so TSG will be hoping to keep it tight. They also showed in the Champions League match against Maribor on Tuesday that they struggle against quick counters. Benedikt Höwedes, who sat out Tuesday's game, pointed out at half time of that not enough tracking back goes on. TSG will hope to take advantage of that.