Maribor vs. Schalke 04, 2014 UEFA Champions League: Time, TV schedule and game preview
Schalke travel to Slovenia to play a must-win against Maribor on Wednesday.
Schalke 04 have had a characteristically unpredictable start to the season, embodied perfectly by their last three games. In the first, they were smashed 5-0 after a dismal performance against Chelsea in the Champions League. In the two domestic games they’ve played since, they’ve won both and scored a combined total of eight goals on their way to collecting maximum points.
However, if they want to make it through into the Champions League’s knockout stages, Roberto Di Matteo’s side will have to beat a stubborn Maribor in Slovenia on Wednesday, while also hoping Sporting Lisbon are beaten by group leaders Chelsea. It’s a far from impossible task for the German outfit, but their hopes of progressing are still only partly in their own hands.
Key player - Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Schalke 04)
Versatile attacker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has been outstanding in Schalke’s last couple of matches, and netted a hat-trick against Stuttgart on the weekend. The Cameroon attacker has demonstrated his great versatility, excelling in both a wide and a central role when Di Matteo has opted to start with four and three at the back respectively. Maribor could struggle to shut him out of the game.
Key matchup - Jasmin Handanović vs. Schalke’s shots
One of the stars of Maribor’s very successful Champions League campaign so far has been goalkeeper Jasmin Handanović. He may not be as well known as his younger cousin Samir, but the Slovenian veteran has been an instrumental role as Maribor have proven themselves to be surprisingly stubborn opponents for the more illustrious sides in the group. If they want another good result, Handanović will have to be on the top of his game.
Maribor injuries and suspensions
Out: None. In doubt: None.
Schalke 04 injuries and suspensions
Out: Joël Matip (foot), Sidney Sam (thigh), Chinedu Obasi (periostitis), Julian Draxler (thigh), Sead Kolašinac, Jefferson Farfán (knee). In doubt: Leon Goretzka (hamstring).
Maribor should have a full-strength team available, though the same can’t be said of Schalke. The German side will still be without several regulars, including defenders Sead Kolašinac and Joël Matip, and attackers Jefferson Farfán and Julian Draxler. Young midfielder Leon Goretzka is close to a return from a hamstring injury, but this game could come a little too soon.
Match Date/Time: Wednesday, 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Ljudski vrt, Maribor, Slovenia
TV: Fox Soccer Plus, Directv (U.S.), Sky Sports Red Button (U.K.), Sky Sport (Germany), SportKlub 1 Slovenia (Slovenia)
Online: Watch ESPN, FOX Soccer 2 Go (U.S.), Sportsnet World Now (Canada), Sky Go (U.K. and Germany)