Rangnick defiant, Hannover confident
Schalke coach Ralf Rangnick has insisted that his decision to leave striker Raul behind in Gelsenkirchen had no impact on his side's dismal 2-0 defeat to HJK Helsinki last night.
The German club, who reached the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League last season, have a mountain to climb just to make the group stages of the Europa League this season, but Rangnick said fielding Raul in Finland would not have made a difference.
"We just chose the wrong means for long spells of the game and played into the Finns' hands," he said. "With these means, it would not have been any easier even with Raul."
The Spanish striker may not be available for the second leg either as speculation that he is set to leave the club. However, the official reason he had been left behind was that Rangnick did not want to risk him on the artificial pitch used in Helsinki.
And the Schalke coach expects things to be different next week at the Arena AufSchalke. "We have got to learn from our errors," he said. "Helsinki played tactically well and then they used the surface to their advantage.
"But we want to turn the result around at the Arena AufSchalke. It is not impossible. We are able to score three, four or five goals, like we did against Cologne, especially as we will be playing on natural grass."
Meanwhile, Hannover striker Jan Schlaudraff is confident of reaching the group stages of the Europa League after his two goals helped his side to a 2-1 win over Sevilla last night.
The former Alemannia Aachen and Bayern Munich striker struck twice in the first half to give Mirko Slomka's side their fourth straight victory of the season in all competitions, and he feels they have nothing to fear at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan next Thursday.
"If we can call upon the same passion, then I am not worried at all about Sevilla," he said. "We have been able to draw a lot of self-confidence out of last season and the last three wins. We can be absolutely delighted with our performance."
Conceding an away goal complicates matters slightly but Slomka is just proud of what his side have already achieved. "The goal is frustrating, but you could see that we are on the same level as them and we deserved this win," he said.
"It was a great game for all involved. We have given a good advert of Hannover and we head to Sevilla in confident mood."