Champions League: Erratic Schalke wants win over Barca

Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes insists the Spanish giants will brush off their recent poor results in La Liga with a positive performance against Schalke in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final.

Champions League: Erratic Schalke wants win over Barca
Are Schalke limber enough to beat Barca? Photo: DPA

Barcelona threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 at Real Betis on Saturday – which frustrated coach Frank Rijkaard – and Valdes says the Spaniards need a morale-boosting win over their Bundesliga opponents in the first leg clash.

“Against Schalke 04 we will be positive from every point of view,” said Valdes.

“The Champions League is a very attractive competition for everyone and we can go into the game feeling confident and knowing that a good result will boost our morale.”

Both Barcelona and Schalke are third in their respective leagues but have struggled for form of late.

Barcelona have lost four of their seven games in March, while Schalke have been just as erratic in the German league although a 0-0 draw with Karlsruhe on Saturday moved them up to third.

Schalke 04 coach Mirko Slomka has warned his side they must raise their game if they are to have any chance of stopping Barcelona in Tuesday’s first leg.

The German side knocked out 2004 champions FC Porto in the last round, but Slomka knows that Tuesday’s game is the biggest of the season.

“The intensive preparations for Tuesday’s game began at 5:20 pm on Saturday, we have to improve and we know the targets we have to achieve against Barcelona,” said Slomka.

The coach is all too aware that double European Cup champions Barcelona will be ruthless with his side at the Veltins Arena.

“We have to be better and stick tightly together, they will punish any mistakes we make immediately,” he said.

This is virtually new territory for Schalke.

They haven’t travelled this far in Europe’s elite club competition for almost five decades, but for Slomka the experience of playing Barcelona should leave his side wanting more.

“With the fans behind us anything is possible. We’re playing Barcelona, that should be motivation enough for the players to qualify for the Champions League again through the Bundesliga.”

If they prove victorious over the two legs, Schalke will face the winners of the tie between AS Roma and Manchester United, but no one in Gelsenkirchen is thinking beyond the quarter-finals.

Schalke will be without midfielder Ivan Rakitic who has an ankle injury, while Brazilian captain Marcelo Bordon proved his fitness in the draw with Karlsruhe.

Barcelona central defenders Rafael Marquez and Gabriel Milito have been included in Rijkaard’s travelling party for the trip, although Samuel Eto’o faces a fitness test on an injured calf.

Mexican Marquez has not played since injuring his right foot in February, while Milito has been nursing a groin injury since the Copa del Rey defeat at Valencia in March.

Deco and Ronaldinho will not travel to Germany either but captain Carles Puyol is fit.

The second-leg will be played at Barcelona’s Camp Nou on April 9.


British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.