Football: Schalke must contain their euphoria
14 March 2005, HAMBURG - The match-winning free kick was the easy part, but now Schalke must prove that they are worthy Bundesliga leaders and show the class necessary to win a first German title since 1958.
14 March 2005
HAMBURG - The match-winning free kick was the easy part, but now Schalke must prove that they are worthy Bundesliga leaders and show the class necessary to win a first German title since 1958.
The euphoria is immense among Schalke fans who believe the club can finally overcome the trauma of 2001 when Bayern Munich stole the title from them on the final day of play.
"This time it's Bayern who are crying," said the Bild daily.
Schalke defeated Munich 1-0 on Sunday night thanks to a 69th-minute free kick by their Brazilian playmaker Lincoln to dethrone Munich at the top of the table.
"I practise free kicks 20-30 times each week. It's nice that it worked out in an important game," said Lincoln, who was described as "heaven-sent" by Schalke board member Josef Schnusenberg.
Like in the 2001 season, Schalke have now beaten Munich in both games (they won 1-0 in Munich last autumn), but there are still nine rounds left to play before the season ends on 21 May.
"We are naturally happy about the victory and the league lead. But we have achieved nothing yet. We won an important match, nothing more. But all that only counts is that we are at the top after the final round as well," said coach Ralf Rangnick.
Forward Gerald Asamoah said: "Our goal is the title. This win gives us a big boost. We hope to be first at the end."
Schalke's class of 2005 is better than the team of 2001, with new hirings Ailton, Lincoln, Mladen Krstajic and Marcelo Bordon strengthening the team considerably next to the established forces of Asamoah, Ebbe Sand and Sven Vermant.
In addition, Schalke have been on a roll ever since Rangnick replaced Jupp Heynckes as coach early in the season.
Manager Rudi Assauer was cautiously optimistic after his team returned to the top for the first time since 5 May 2001.
"We are not through yet. Class will prevail in the end. We have the class," said Assauer.
Sand said: "The title race is not decided but now we have even more confidence."
Munich goalkeeper Oliver Kahn admitted that Schalke "have a psychological advantage", but only on a short-term basis.
The defeat was a setback for Munich at the end of a week in which they first defeated reigning champions Werder Bremen and then progressed into the quarter-finals of the Champions League over Arsenal.
Michael Ballack and company played below par in their fifth straight defeat at Schalke, but they will always be a force to be reckoned with, even more when marksman Roy Makaay and creative Mehmet Scholl return from injury layoffs.
No wonder coach Felix Magath said: "I am relaxed as far as the championship is concerned."
Kicker sports magazine also warned Schalke about too much euphoria which will be hard to contain, given their devoted fans.
"It remains open what will happen. It is well-known that the 2001 title was also decided at the final moment. That is the factor Schalke must think about most over the next weeks," said Kicker.
Subject: German news