FC Schalke 04
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The Schalke want to go back to the football upper house. © Uwe Anspach/dpa

At FC Schalke, the belief in a return to the football upper house is growing. A win in the top game against St. Pauli could pave the way.

Gelsenkirchen – No declarations of war, no muscle flexing. Before the promotion showdown of the 2nd Bundesliga, the executive floor of FC Schalke seems surprisingly reserved and relaxed – at least to the outside world.

Even the immense expectations of the fans do not lure coach Mike Büskens and sports director Rouven Schröder out of reserve. The concern that the pressure, which is increasing every day, could be transferred to the team is too great. “We definitely have to stay with us,” Schröder warned before the top game of the leader on Saturday (8:30 p.m. / Sky) against fifth-placed FC St. Pauli: “We haven’t achieved anything yet.”

Breakfast together to get you in the mood

Everyone involved wants to avoid a similar disappointment as two weeks ago, when the week-long high of the team was abruptly slowed down in the 1: 4 at the same place against the then table leaders Werder Bremen. A joint breakfast on Wednesday should help to get in the mood and promote team spirit. “The whole squad is looking forward to the last two games. That’s what we all want. We want to be there to the end, to write something on our flag,” commented Büskens.

At the end of a changeable season with a fall to eighth place at the beginning of December, the Bundesliga return for the current leader seems within reach. It fits with the longing for a royal blue day of celebration that the party of the legendary “Eurofighters”, who will be present in the stadium 25 years after their Uefa Cup triumph, is also increasing this weekend. Despite all the anticipation of a reunion, Büskens, who was in the starting XI in the surprise win over Inter Milan in 1997, is more focused on today than yesterday: “I’m not planned into the processes at all. Don’t blame me, I don’t have a head for that.”

Büskens proud of Schalke passion

When he took office at the beginning of March as interim head coach and successor to Dimitrios Grammozis, the belief in immediate resurgence returned. Six wins in seven games also contributed to the fact that the critical distance between the fans and the pros turned into passionate support again. This fills Büskens with particular pride: “It means a lot to me. Everyone has worked hard to regain that trust. For me, that reflects the image I have gained from Schalke 04 over the past 29 years. This togetherness, this intense, this emotional.”

Not only the sporting events, but also the separation from the long-standing main sponsor has contributed to this positive development according to the assessment of the 54-year-old football coach. “Those responsible made some good decisions this year. I think the completion of the Gazprom deal was very important for this club. It was the situation in which the club had to show their colors. He did. You saw the response there.”

A win over St. Pauli could help fan affection continue to grow. Regardless of the outcome of the game on Saturday, Büskens sees the traditional club well on the way back to its former glory: “For me, who also experienced last year with dark moments that I could never have imagined, it’s nice to see it again . That’s how I know Schalke. That’s what made Schalke what it was – and what it has to be again.” With a lot of pathos, he added: “Not everyone has to like that. But those who love this emblem know what it means to be a part of the whole.” dpa

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