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Football: "Nothing to lose" for Schalke at Galatasaray

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Schalke 04 arrived in Istanbul for Wednesday's Champions League clash at Galatasaray with goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand insisting they have nothing to lose in the intimidating atmosphere of the Turk Telekom Stadium.

"These are the games footballers live for," said Hildebrand on the eve of the last 16, first-leg match.

"We have the opportunity to push the last few weeks aside. We don't actually have anything to lose."

Despite the defiant talk, Schalke are low on confidence after just one win in their last 12 games has seen them drop from second to ninth in the Bundesliga.

As one of only four teams to finish the Champions League group phase unbeaten, including away wins at Olympiakos and Arsenal, Schalke need to dramatically improve on recent performances to preserve their undefeated status.

"We want to reach the quarter-finals, it's quite clear," said coach Jens Keller, who has won just once in his six games in charge.

Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is available after two weeks out with a burst blood vessel in his eye.

'The Hunter' has scored in four of Schalke's six European games so far this season, including the wins at Arsenal and Olympiakos, but has struggled for form recently.

Neverthless, Keller says Schalke's impressive away wins in North London and at Olympiakos are still fresh enough in the memory to inspire his team.

"The boys have the memories of these games still in their heads," said Keller.

"We have repeatedly watched Galatasaray and have seen a few opportunities which we can exploit."

Nevertheless, the Germans are determined to produce a good performance.

"Fear is always a bad advisor," said Schalke midfielder Marco Hoeger.

"Galatasaray have great players like Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder amongst others.

"We go there with lots of respect, but we'll have no fear.

"We also have good players in our ranks. The fact Huntelaar is fit again, is important, he has already helped us get some results. We all hope that he keeps doing it in Istanbul."

Teenager Max Meyer made his Bundesliga debut for the last 20 minutes of the 2-2 draw at Mainz last weekend and made an instant impression, the 17-year-old helped create the second equaliser and could feature again against Galatasaray.

"He is one of the greatest talents in Germany," said Keller.

Schalke have considerable injury problems with defenders Atsuto Uchida, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, midfielders Ibrahim Afellay, Christoph Moritz, striker Ciprian Marica and goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall all out.

Brazilian forward Raffael is cup tied.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130219/football-nothing-lose-schalke-at-galatasaray