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Football | Champions League

Schalke coach furious ahead of UCL tie



Schalke 04 coach Huub Stevens was in an angry mood ahead of his side's crucial Champions League home match with Greek outfit Olympiakos saying he could have substituted nine of his team in their Bundesliga defeat at Bayer Leverkusen.

Schalke top Group B and host the Greek side, third in the table, at Gelsenkirchen's Veltins Arena on Wednesday where victory would see the Royal Blues qualify for the knock-out phase.

But the Royal Blues lost 2-0 at Leverkusen on Saturday as a superb first-half goal by Germany midfielder Andre Schuerrle, then striker Stefan Kiessling's goal on 67 minutes, sealed the win.

"It was a collective failure. I could have replaced nine players," fumed Stevens.

Leverkusen dominated and Kiessling also had a late penalty saved, while Schalke were reduced to 10 men when centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos was sent off for a second foul on Schuerrle in the final 10 minutes.

The 20-year-old Greek defender took out his frustrations on a pitch-side water bottle as he stormed off, kicking the vessel and soaking a nearby television journalist.

"He apologised for it and so did I," added Stevens, who went over to the reporter as he tried to dry himself after his impromptu pitch-side shower.

Having taken off both Germany midfielder Lewis Holtby and Peru forward Jefferson Farfan in the final 20 minutes, Stevens angrily ordered the pair to leave the bench and go to the dressing room.

"I wanted them to warm-down, I wasn't happy they sat on the bench, so I told them so."

But Stevens was far from impressed with what he saw.

"If you don't put in a performance, you can't win a game. We were begging to lose," fumed the Dutchman.

After Wednesday's international fixtures, Schalke only had four players at training in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday, "perhaps that might have something to do with it," added Stevens.

"We gave the opposition too much space, at the end Leverkusen were closer to making it 3-0 than we were to making it 2-1," admitted Schalke's Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

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