Schalke coach Mirko Slomka believes his side “still have a chance” of reaching the Champions League semi-finals despite losing the home leg of their last-eight tie 1-0 to Barcelona.
Bojan Krkic scored the only goal after 12 minutes, but the manner of his side’s performance, particularly in the second half, gave Slomka cause for optimism ahead of next week’s second leg.
“We were far too respectful in the first half and the way we conceded the goal says it all. We gave our opponents far too much space and we have to be more alert in situations like this.
“We had big problems in the first half but we should have got more out of the second. We had decided to go for it, and given the chances we created after half-time and our attacking play, we deserved a goal. Unfortunately it took us too long to lose the respect. We wanted to put pressure on them in the second half and this forced them to play long balls. We made the running but lacked the necessary luck in the end.
“However, I am pleased that our play was full of passion in that second period. Obviously we can’t start thinking we can play like that for 90 minutes in Barcelona, but on the evidence of the second half I believe we still have a chance. We just have to seize it.
“In the Champions League you have to capitalise on chances like the ones we had. Unfortunately, some of our creative players were injured today and we missed them. Maybe one or two will return for the second leg which would help.
Meanwhile, Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard was pleased with the result and praised his side’s work ethic overthe course of the 90 minutes.
“You can say that we got a good result today,” said the Dutchman. “The team worked well over the course of the match and I have to congratulate them. We quickly hit our stride and were helped by the early goal obviously.
“Things got more difficult when Schalke’s approach became more physical. I think we did well to defend against that and, in the end, we got the result. I liked the way we created pressure down the wings and we were in command for much of the match because of that. Schalke performed better when we tired.
“These are the small areas where we can still improve. We worked hard and it would have been nice to maintain our performance level in the second half. But although we couldn’t, we still won and that’s why I’m pleased. The team showed the right spirit. We always want to get results and it is great when it works out like today.”