22nd November, 2014
Schalke coach Roberto di Matteo is considering playing a five-man defence for Tuesday’s visit of his former club Chelsea to protect his perfect home record after the 3-2 win over Wolfsburg.
Di Matteo’s Royal Blues passed their toughest test in his seventh game since taking charge last month to end second-placed Wolves’ eight match winning Bundesliga streak ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Chelsea.
The 44-year-old Di Matteo played a 5-3-2 formation with full-backs Atsuto Uchida of Japan and Austria’s Christian Fuchs given license to attack as Schalke recorded a fifth straight home win under Di Matteo in Gelsenkirchen.
“We have limited options at the minute and it’s important we utilise the fit players properly,” said Di Matteo.
“Over the past week we have practised playing with a back five, which worked well, and I haven’t decided whether we will continue to employ that system.
“I’m delighted that our home record remains so good. We defended well as a team and can go home happy.”
Schalke host Chelsea with the Royal Blues three points behind Jose Mourinho’s Premier League side in their Champions League group after the sides drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge in September.
The Schalke job is Di Matteo’s first since being sacked by Chelsea in November 2012 having steered them to the Champions League title that May after beating Bayern Munich on a penalty shoot-out in the Bavarian capital.
Schalke raced into a 3-0 lead against Wolves with less than 30 minutes gone at the Veltins Arena as Cameroon striker Eric Choupo-Moting fired his side into an early lead, then added a second on 22 minutes.
Wolfsburg’s defence completely failed to deal with Fuchs’ free-kick which bounced over goalkeeper Diego Benaglio and into his goal three minutes later to leave Wolves reeling.
The visitors pulled a goal back just before the break when Croatia’s Ivica Olic fired home from close-range on 37 minutes before ex-Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner made it 3-2 with 16 minutes left, but the win puts Schalke sixth.
“We played some good football, especially in the first half,” added Di Matteo.
“Wolfsburg showed their strength in the second-half, but we defended well and the goals we conceded were a bit unlucky.”