Schalke v Montpellier preview
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Last Updated: 03/10/12 11:52am
Huub Stevens: Believes Schalke are scrapping for second place in Group B
Schalke are hoping to steal a march on the other teams in UEFA Champions League Group B with victory over Montpellier at the Veltins Arena.
The Royal Blues started their European campaign with a 2-1 win over Olympiakos a fortnight ago, and another victory on Wednesday night would set them up nicely for the two matches against Arsenal - who Schalke coach Huub Stevens believes are likely to top the group, leaving the remaining three sides battling to finish as runners-up.
"I see Arsenal as the favourites for our group," he said.
"Montpellier, Olympiacos and we will be fighting for second place."
Schalke go into Wednesday's match on the back of some indifferent domestic form.
Defeat to Bayern Munich was followed by an unconvincing victory over Mainz, at least in terms of the performance and not the 3-0 scoreline, while Friday's 2-2 draw at Fortuna Dusseldorf earned the team plenty of criticism, not only from their own fans.
Schalke were leading 2-0 in that match but were pegged back in the second half.
However, Schalke captain Benedikt Howedes insists his side are now looking forward rather than back.
"For us, the Dusseldorf match is in the past," he said.
"We are really looking forward to this match against Montpellier. We worked hard in the league last year to qualify for this.
"We showed that we can say a thing or two in Europe when we faced Olympiakos. We played a great game there and deserved to win, and wins like that give you a lift."
Self-confidence alone is not going to be enough to win on Wednesday night, though, and their coach has warned against getting complacent against a side currently struggling in the French league after creating a major upset by winning the title in May.
"It is no coincidence that they are French champions," Stevens said at the pre-match press conference.
"Montpellier have some good players, such as Souleymane Camara, Younes Belhanda and Anthony Mournier.
"They may not be so well known in Germany, but that does not mean anything."
Stevens is likely to be without Jefferson Farfan, who sat out the draw against Fortuna and has not fully recovered from a pulled muscle, while Jermaine Jones is also a doubt after taking a knock to the ankle in training yesterday.
"We will have to see who can play after our final training session. All I can say is that there will be 11 players and one will be wearing gloves," added the coach.
The gloves will be on for Montpellier as they plan to come out fighting in Gelsenkirchen, buoyed by a much-needed win in Ligue 1 against Nancy at the weekend.
"This is good for the lads," said coach Rene Girard after Saturday's victory.
"It gives us a bit of breathing space.
"It is good for morale because we have a difficult game against Schalke. We know that it is not going to be easy, but it is a different competition and I am not concerned - we will rise to the occasion."
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UEFA Champions League
Wed 3rd Oct - Group C
Zenit2 - 3AC Milan
Anderlecht0 - 3Malaga
Wed 3rd Oct - Group B
Schalke2 - 2Montpellier
Arsenal3 - 1Olympiakos
Wed 3rd Oct - Group A
FC Porto1 - 0PSG
Dynamo Kiev2 - 0Din Zagreb
Wed 3rd Oct - Group D
Man City1 - 1B Dortmund
Ajax1 - 4R Madrid
UEFA Champions League Group A
UEFA Champions League Group B
UEFA Champions League Group C
|1||Paris St Germain||6||13|
UEFA Champions League Group D
|3||FC Viktoria Plzen||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group E
|4||FC Steaua Bucuresti||6||3|
UEFA Champions League Group F
UEFA Champions League Group G
|2||Zenit St. Petersburg||6||6|
UEFA Champions League Group H