Schalke boss Domenico Tedesco insists his side are fully focused on the Bundesliga run-in ahead of the clash with Cologne following their disappointing exit from the DFB-Pokal in midweek.
The Gelsenkirchen club crashed out of the cup in the semi-finals as Luka Jovic’s strike gave Eintract Frankfurt a 1-0 win at the Veltins Arena to set up a final against coach Niko Kovac’s future employers Bayern Munich next month.
Schalke could secure Champions League football on Sunday and at the same time send Cologne down to 2.Bundesliga.
If Schalke win and RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim draw, together with Frankfurt failing to beat Hertha Berlin, then Tedesco’s side will have confirmed their place in the elite European competition for next season.
Cologne, meanwhile, are nine points from safety with just four games remaining.
Tedesco has put the disappointing cup defeat behind him and turned his attention to the final stages of the league campaign.
He told the club’s official website: “Obviously the team were disappointed after the defeat. We’ve collected our thoughts and are now looking ahead to the upcoming clash. We’ve cleared our heads.
“We simply want to do our best. Against Frankfurt, we thankfully didn’t pick up any new injuries. Everyone’s available.”
Tedesco has prepared his side for the challenge against Cologne, who are fighting for their lives.
“Cologne have shown many times that they haven’t given up. I think they have a lot of good players in the side who helped them qualify for the Europa League,” Tedesco said.
Cologne head coach Stefan Ruthenbeck will not give up the fight for survival while there is still hope his team can retain their top-flight status.
He told his club’s official website: “We are obligated to do something for our fans, regardless of how this season has played out.
“We still have two interesting home fixtures. We still want to be competitive and spring a surprise when the opponent shows weakness.
“The fact of the matter is that we are not relegated yet. We will fight until the bitter end. Giving up is not an option.
“We will fight back and do what we can to get a positive result.
“We have always had to deal with pressure. The chance of us surviving is very small. Still, we want to surprise everyone.”
Stay updated with the latest news, gossip and football stories by following us @Football_P