FC Schalke 04
Sunday 19th April, 16:30 GMT
Title challengers Wolfsburg take on Schalke today in a game that could heap even more pressure on Roberto Di Matteo as his side are now sixth after unfavourable results elsewhere. Schalke fans are hopeful of a Champions league berth for next season, but that looks really bleak at the moment as their side are 13 points behind Borussia Monchengladbach who occupy the final Champions League spot. A win will reduce the gap to ten points, but they’ll have to be at their best to beat Dieter Hecking’s side who will be hurting after their poor Europa League showing against Napoli. Although Schalke have a good head to head record against Wolfsburg, they will start as underdogs for the game.
Team news and tactics
With Bayern Munich running away with the title, Dieter Hecking will want to ensure a second place finish. Bayer Leverkusen are breathing down their necks and are just six points behind with five more games to play, so any slip up could jeopardise the second place finish. Despite the Europa League setback in midweek, their Bundesliga form has been pretty good a they have picked seven points out of nine in the last three games.
Against Schalke, we could see the return of Nicklas Bendtner after Bas Dost’s poor form of late. The Dutchman hasn’t found the back of the net in nine games and could be relegated to the bench. Ivan Perisic was on the bench for the Napoli game and could start on the right-hand side with Andre Schurrle playing on the opposite flank. With the strikers not in good touch, attacking midfielder Kevin De Bruyne will have an important role to play.
Schalke will most likely setup for a defensive approach which will mean that Luis Gustavo and Maximilian Arnold will have to be on their toes. While Arnold will get forward whenever he can, Gustavo’s game will be to break Schalke’s play. In defence, the quartet of Ricardo Rodr guez, Naldo, Knoche and Vieirinha will form a back four with Diego Benaglio guarding the posts.
Probable XI (4-2-3-1): Benaglio; Vieirinha, Naldo, Knoche, Rodriguez; Gustavo, Arnold; Schurrle, De Bruyne, Perisic, Bendtner
Di Matteo is under a lot of pressure after his side slipped to sixth yesterday. Augsburg’s win over Stuttgart means they are in fifth, a point ahead of Schalke. Die Knappen have drifted from the top four thanks to their recent winless run. Schalke’s last win came four games ago against Hoffenheim and that was in early March.
Denis Aogo could be dropped for the game as Di Matteo knows he has to win the game if he is to make a late challenge for the top four. We could see the return of Leon Goretzka into the starting lineup who will play alongside Roman Neust dter in the double pivot in front of the defense. Goretzka is more attack minded than Neust dter, so expect him to join the attack when Schalke get forward.
Klass-Jan Huntelaar hasn’t scored in a while and will lead the line with Julian Draxler and Farfan playing out wide. Young Max Meyer will play as the attacking midfielder. Draxler’s return could have an impact on the game as Di Matteo is in desperate search of goals as his side haven’t scored in the last three games. In defence, the back four of Kolasinac, Nastasic, Matip, Howedes could start. Howedes has been doing a good job at right back and could keep his place there.
Probable XI(4-2-3-1): Fahrmann; Kolasinac, Nastasic, Matip, Howedes; Neust dter, Goretzka, Meyer, Farfan, Draxler, Huntelaar
- Wolfsburg have won just three times in the last ten clashes against Schalke (Drawn 1, lost six).
- Schalke’s last goal game three games ago in their 2-2 draw against Hertha Berlin more than a month ago.
- Wolfsburg are unbeaten 19 Bundesliga home games.
- Unlike Schalke’s goal drought, Dieter Hecking’s men have found the back of the net at least twice in their last six home games.
Player to watch out for
After a 14-minute substitute appearance against Freiburg, Draxler will undoubtedly be Schalke’s trump card. The German’s absence has been felt as he was a key contributor for his side prior to his injury. Schalke’s awful form coupled with their deficiency in front of goal will put extra responsibility on Draxler’s shoulders, and he could deliver you know.
Wolfsburg 3-1 Schalke
Schalke’s terrible run could get worse at the Volkswagen area as Wolfsburg seem too strong for Di Matteo’s men. Although Schalke could break their goalless run, they will end up as the losing side.