Football Preview: Schalke vs Stuttgart

Schalke fans will have to wait until after Saturday's game against Stuttgart before finding out whether Raul will give himself to a longer stay at the club. The Spaniard's agreement expires in the summer and, while he has already signalled an eagerness to stay on in Gelsenkirchen, discussions have not actually taken place yet. Talks have now been scheduled for after Saturday afternoon's first Bundesliga fixture of 2012.

"Talks about a possible contract extension with Raul are on the agenda," said Schalke's director of sport Horst Heldt at the pre-match press conference. "There is nothing new." The focus for now, then, is making a winning start to 2012 to leave the club in an even better position from which to try and convince the former Real Madrid striker to carry on. "If you start (the year) with a win, then things are a lot easier," said Coach Hub Stevens.

"We are at home in front of our great fans and we have a lot of self-confidence; we have self-confidence but no fear - that is the right way."Stuttgart is also keen to make a winning start to the New Year as they look to keep in touch with the top six. However, they are without five regulars, three of whom could be missing until the middle of February. Arthur Boka, Ibrahima Traore and Mahamdou Bah are all contribute in the African Nations Cup while Christian Gentner and Shinji Okazaki are both carrying knocks.


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