Oct 20 (Reuters) - Schalke 04 are hoping their freshly-found discipline under new coach Robert Di Matteo, coupled with his Champions League pedigree will help them beat Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday for their first win in the competition this season.
Italian Di Matteo, who replaced Jens Keller, enjoyed a successful debut on the Schalke bench with a 2-0 victory over Hertha Berlin on Saturday in what also was only their second clean sheet of the league so far.
The former Chelsea coach, who won the Champions League in a caretaker role in 2012, must now also kickstart their European campaign after two draws in Group G against Chelsea and Maribor.
“What was positive was the win and the clean sheet,” Di Matteo said following Saturday’s win which lifted them back up the Bundesliga table into eighth place after a rollercoaster start to the season.
“Our defence was good and the organisation of the team was also good. We have to increase our possession and play better between the lines. But we cannot change everything at once.”
Schalke looked sharp in attack, with midfielder Julian Draxler and Dutch forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar on target.
Di Matteo, whose appointment is the first since his Chelsea sacking in late 2012, will be hoping the striker’s streak in Europe also continues after having scored in both the previous group games this season.
“Our focus is now on Sporting and success in this game in the Champions League,” said Di Matteo.
Di Matteo will be able to count on captain Benedikt Hoewedes, after the Germany defender started against Hertha following a five-week break with a hip injury.
Defender Jan Kirchhoff also returned to action, making a brief substitute appearance against Hertha, his first since suffering a knee injury in August.
“We have not taken a huge step but we did take an important step forward,” Hoewedes said. “We have to remain patient and keep working and push ourselves forward bit by bit.”
For bottom-placed Sporting, a win is of paramount importance to maintain their chances of advancing, having collected only one point in their two games so far.
Chelsea top the group on four points, with Schalke level on two with Maribor.
The Portuguese, however, enjoyed a confidence-boosting 3-1 win over Porto on Saturday for a spot in the Portuguese Cup fourth round.
Although five of their 10 matches this season have ended in 1-1 draws, Sporting’s only defeat was at home to Chelsea in the Champions League. (Editing by Brian Homewood)