Schalke′s Coach Promises Tougher Champions League Re-Match | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 02.04.2008
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Schalke's Coach Promises Tougher Champions League Re-Match

Schalke's coach Mirko Slomka said his team showed Barcelona too much respect during their recent Champions League quarter final match, but promised to do better when the two teams meet next week for the second leg.

Schalke's Fabian Ernst, left, Schalke's Marcelo Bordon, right, and Barcelona's Bojan Krkic, center

Schalke was no match for Barcelona striker Krkic, center

A little respect is a good thing. But FC Schalke 04 looked intimidated by FC Barcelona on Tuesday, April 1, admitted coach Mirko Slomka.

Slomka said his team, which lost 0-1, was not aggressive enough against the Spanish soccer giants.

"When you play Barcelona, you have to respect them, but I think we gave them too much respect today (Tuesday)," Slomka said.

Barcelona's 17-year-old striker Bojan Krkic scored the game's only goal 12 minutes into the first half and Schalke was unable to respond despite numerous chances. Xavi Hernandez got the play started, splitting open Schalke's defense. Ex-Arsenal striker Thierry Henry picked up a rebound from Schalke goalie Manuel Neuer and passed it to Krkic, who buried a shot at the top of the net.

Schalke left defenseless

Schalke's head coach Mirko Slomka gestures

Slomka was unhappy with the timid playing

Schalke gave Barcelona too much space and Thierry Henry wasted no time in taking advantage of it, said Slomka. To make it worse, Schalke "didn't have enough courage to attack them," the coach said.

"In the second half we had our chances to force an equalizer, but unfortunately we didn't take them," he said. "We had talked about the danger of conceding an early goal, unfortunately Manuel Neuer didn't hold onto the ball and that was an error."

The Germans had plenty of chances to even out the score, with Fabian Ernst and Halil Altintop both having shots on the goal close to the midway point of the second half. Schalke's Soren Larsen then squandered a free header and Marcelo Bordon brought a fingertip save from Victor Valdes in the match's final moments.

Down, but not out

Barcelona's Giovani Da Silva, right, and Rafael Marquez arrive at the hotel in Essen, Germany, prior to the Champions League quarterfinal soccer match between Schalke and Barcelona

Next week Barcelona will play at home

If Schalke ever was going to beat Barcelona, Tuesday at their home field in Gelsenkirchen was the night. The Catalans lost four of their seven games in March. And when the teams meet for the second leg of the quarterfinal match on April 9, Barcelona will have home-field advantage.

"In the Champions League you have to capitalize on chances like the ones we had," Slomka said.

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard admitted his side coasted during the second half, but praised his players for their tough playing.

"It was a very hard match," he said. "Schalke showed how strong they are and what team spirit they have."

Semi-finals on the horizon

Schalke's Vincente Sanchez, center, fights for the ball against Barcelona's Andres Iniesta, Samuel Eto'o and Gianluca Zambrotta, from left

Which team will make it to the semi-finals?

The winner of next week's quarter-final second leg of the Champions League will likely face Manchester United in the semi-finals.

Schalke's Slomka said his players would not repeat the errors next week.

"In spite of the result we still have our chances," said Schalke's Slomka. "It would have been difficult if we had lost 2-0, but we have something to believe in now."

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