Preview: FC Schalke 04 – FC Bayern Munich
Schalke is expected to be quite an interesting opponent. As part of this preview we talked with Tim, Blogger and fan of S04, about huge changes, new personnel, season’s targets and the upcoming game.
Hello Tim, please introduce yourself to our readers and tell them how you became a fan of Schalke 04. What makes the club so special to you?
Hi Justin! My name is Tim, I am 24 years old and I live in Hannover. After finishing my economic degree I started to work in broadcasting. Up until two years ago I was actively playing football, but due to several injuries I had to quit.
I got into Schalke 04 15 years ago. For me personally the club is just pure emotion and passion like nothing else in the world. It is never quiet around the club, which is not always a positive feature, but it makes it special as well. For me there was simply no other option than becoming a supporter of S04, even though I was born and raised here in Hannover. Every fan of Schalke needs this bit of mayhem in his life and it never gets boring. At least this is my impression.
There were big changes during the summer break. What has changed so far and how do you feel about the new direction Schalke is heading?
Actually we experienced some new kind of calmness in the recent weeks. Christian Heidel managed to calm and revitalize the club’s surroundings. Even the loss against Frankfurt did not change that massively. One decisive factor might be that there are no more endless discussions about transfers as well as the fact that internal secrets stay where they belong. For you as FC Bayern supporters this might be usual, but for us it indicates a big step forward in the right direction. Can it be a long-term thing? I don’t know. We will see when we experience the first few big defeats. To begin with we would be well advised to stay cautiously towards early praises.
Christian Heidel was quite actively on the transfer market. Please give us a short introduction of the new players.
First there is Naldo who, with his experience, is the logical replacement after the departure of Joel Matip to Liverpool. Then there is Breel Embolo, possibly our transfer-masterpiece of the summer. He might be a promise for the future but the aim is to replace Leroy Sané on the right wing. Our new wing-backs Baba Abdul Rahman und Coke should be beneficial as well. Especially because of our history regarding injuries we had to deal with over the past seasons. Unfortunately Coke is currently suffering from an injury and will out of the action for a long time. At the centre defensive midfield position we acquired two new players, Benjamin Stambouli and Nabil Bentaleb, who are challenged to improve the interaction between offence and defence, which was one of our biggest deficits in the past. Finally and shortly before the end of the transfer window Jewhen Konoplyanka, a versatile winger, arrived from Sevilla.
Sounds like a successful period. How pleased are you with the new team?
The outcome in general is decent. Heidel not only managed to make the squad deeper, he is also counting on young and promising talents. Now we have two players in every position competing for the spot, which was rarely the case in the past when only the youth players were an option. Due to the enormity of the changes the team will take some time to gel. We should not expect miracles but we have internal competition, which is important.
Regarding the departures, Joel Matip will be hugely missed. More than it seems to be right now. He not only is a great character off the field, but also had a key role on the field. From my point of view the majority of S04 fans saw him as our best option at the centre back position, maybe even better than Benedikt Höwedes. The loss of Sané was quite devastating as well. I think he may have been capable of improving a lot more here at Schalke, which leads to my doubts that he is ready to have an impact at Manchester City right now.
You already mentioned that your team would need some time to adjust. At first sight the new Coach Markus Weinzierl did not changed a lot in the matchup vs. Eintracht Frankfurt. Maybe you can tell us how the playing style might change in the future.
Formation-wise I do not expect many changes. The new players indicate that we will stick to the 4-2-3-1 formation. Especially because Weinzierl is a huge fan of Klaas Jan Huntelaar and there are no other valid options available. Although there will be some tactical adjustments regarding the interaction in the midfield. The gaps were far too big in the past.
While our defensive midfielders often played too far back, the offensive forces were waiting for decent passes. Unfortunately we experienced the exact same problem in the game vs. Frankfurt. Their style of pressing left us no chance whatsoever and we were not able to establish our own build-up play. That is why we tried to improve at this specific position. The main tasks will be to act more versatile, compact and to bring those parts of the team together.
How much time does Weinzierl get to implement his ideas?
This is the decisive question here at Schalke. The trust in our coaches – as it is well known – is relatively small. Maybe Christian Heidel is able to change that. In addition to that the chairman Clemens Tönnies stressed that he won’t be involved in the operative procedures anymore. Time will tell how the board deals with critical voices in reference to the coach. Trust me this will not take long. I just massively hope that they will grant Weinzierl the time to form his team.
What are your short-term goals? Is it realistic to go for a Champions League spot with such a huge competition at hand in the Bundesliga?
For me it is simply to be consistent. To keep up a good performance over six to eight games was never possible in the past. Generally after one decent game we had two bad ones just after. That has to change! The Champions League is one of the big goals for the future. It should be our aspiration with such a team and the recruitments we made in the summer, but this season it might be too difficult. Sometimes aspiration and reality at Schalke are quite different. I expect to finish 5th.
On Friday Schalke will face FC Bayern. Describe the tactical approach you expect for the game.
It would not be surprising if we start with a five at the back formation. In the first leg last season this worked out quite well for us. A high-scoring game is not to be expected. We will count on set-pieces and try to get some relief in some phases during the game. The defence might see some changes. It is also possible that Benedikt Höwedes will be playing right-wing-back in a four at the back formation due to the bad form of Junior Caicara and the lack of speed of Sascha Riether. If this is the case I think a defensive midfield with Leon Goretzka and Nabil Bentaleb is the best option. In front of them I expect no big changes. Maybe Embolo replaces Franco Di Santo and Konoplayanka will get a chance instead of Choupo-Moting as well. The rest is likely to stay in the team. In general the four at the back formation will be a lot more risky.
Can you predict the result? Do you believe in the eagerly anticipated consistency and calmness at Schalke?
I already placed some bets on the game, which have a more optimistic than realistic character. It will be incredibly tough. For me a 0-2 defeat with a good performance would be OK. But I would be lying if I denied that I have small hopes to steal a point. In this scenario everything has to be perfect and your team should not have one of its good days as well.
Surely I believe that it is possible to establish a calm environment and consistency in Gelsenkirchen. Normally the club messes up, when the atmosphere changes because of bad results. This is a big task for Christian Heidel. He needs to keep everything together and I am quite optimistic that he is able to do so. But it is impossible to predict what will happen next. Schalke 04 is full of surprises.
There have been a lot of changes at Schalke compared to previous years. Christian Heidel and Markus Weinzierl have taken on the mission, like many others before, to turn the club around and transform it into a real competitor again. After the first loss away at Frankfurt it is time for them to make a real statement at home vs. Bayern Munich.
Like Tim mentioned in the interview Schalke 04 is a special club. The surroundings of the club are influenced by the emotionalism and the upheaval, which were present big time in the past. The new structure with new authorities is the key in this approach. Considering the first few weeks under the reign of Christian Heidel, his influence is undoubtedly strong. The transfers are an improvement on first sight as well. Heidel managed to replace the departures with young ambitious players, who are already internationally experienced.
Tim has pointed out that the hectic environment is not the only big problem of Schalke 04. There is also a lack regarding tactics. After a complicated period of Roberto Di Matteo, with a defensive style of play, Andre Breitenreiter took over, but could not establish his concepts. There was no structure whatsoever, the gaps were too big and the offence in general relied on individual qualities. Schalke is missing a type of player like Daniel Baier, who plays for Weinzierl’s former club Augsburg. For example he is able to implement structure and make an impact on the game. Schalke’s Johannes Geis has no such qualities yet.
Weinzierl is eager to change that. In preseason you could get the impression that they want to develop their game in possession and make the play more smoothly. The improved positioning to close the gaps is key for that. With the addition of Bentaleb they acquired a player who in his skillset is quiet similar to Daniel Baier. Even in the first game at Frankfurt you could see some of his features in short period of time. For FC Bayern it will be important to prevent his exceptional build up play.
Schalke is likely to start with a defensive formation. A five at the back formation is one of the tools Weinzierl used in the past at Augsburg vs. Bayern. The system is relatively versatile so that the wing-backs are able to initiate counter attacks and hurt our defence massively. Unlike the previous matchups Schalke will gain more possession due to Ancelotti’s philosophy.
Like Tim said everything needs to fall into the right places, if Schalke wants to be successful against our Bavarian squad. It is not easy to establish a decent playing style after only a few weeks with a new coach and several new players as well. A procedure like this needs some time, which is kind of scarce at Schalke. However due to their individual qualities, Schalke is a serious opponent. Some difficult games against Schalke in the previous seasons are an indicator for that. Last week’s international break, where many Bayern players were active, is another factor that we have to take into consideration, although Schalke had some players playing for their national teams as well.
The game will be the first real test for Ancelotti and his philosophy. It is expected that the team is able to create solutions while in possession, but the execution in phases without the ball will be interesting to observe. The impressions from the Supercup vs. Dortmund, where we experienced some difficulties, were not confirmed vs. Werder Bremen, who were no challenge whatsoever.
It will be important to see how the team acts without the ball. Schalke may have a chance to initiate something themselves. But how much risk can we expect? How stabilized is our defensive unit? Are we able to counter as well? These questions might be the decisive ones. The game might show how deep Ancelotti’s ideas are already implemented into the player’s heads. In perspective of the Bundesliga title the three points will be important as well. A bad start of the Bavarian’s seems to be Dortmund’s biggest hope to compete for the title.
Last five games against FC Schalke 04
- FC Bayern Munich 3-0 FC Schalke 04 (Bundesliga, Match-day 30 2015/16)
- FC Schalke 04 1-3 FC Bayern Munich (Bundesliga, Match-day 13 2015/16)
- FC Bayern Munich 1-1 FC Schalke 04 (Bundesliga, Match-day 19 2014/15)
- FC Schalke 04 1-1 FC Bayern Munich (Bundesliga, Match-day 2 2014/15)
- FC Bayern Munich 5-1 FC Schalke 04 (Bundesliga, Match-day 23 2013/14)
- Bayern managed to win 55 out of 105 games vs. Schalke 04, drawing 30 and losing only 20. Goals scored: Bayern – 216 / Schalke – 118.
- Bayern is undefeated against Schalke for eleven straight games while winning nine times and drawing only two.
- On the 26th of January 2002 Bayern lost 5-1 to Schalke, which is the highest defeat against the team from Gelsenkirchen. In the following seven games they did not manage to win one single game.
- The highest scoring game dates back to 1973, when Bayern made a comeback to equalize a 3-0 deficit and make it 5-5.
- Xabi Alonso made his debut appearance for Bayern Munich exactly two years ago on the second match-day vs. Schalke.
- Especially at home the record is quiet balanced. 12 wins for Schalke, 19 draws and 15 Bavarian victories with a goal ratio of 63-73 in favour of Bayern Munich prove that.
- In the last five games at Veltins Arena Schalke only gained one point in total.
- There was only one scoreless game vs. Bayern Munich in 1977 at Veltins Arena.
- The highest victory of a Schalke squad dates back to 1976 when they beat Bayern Munich 7-0 at the Bavarian home ground.
- Manuel Neuer made 156 appearances in the Bundesliga for Schalke 04. He only conceded four goals in ten games vs. his former club.
- Klaas Jan Huntelaar never scored against Bayern Munich in seven games total.
Five bold predictions
- Bayern will concede one goal.
- Bayern will win the game vs. Schalke.
- Müller will score.
- A defender will score a goal as well.
- Schalke will be last or second to last in the Bundesliga table after the second match-day.
Three out of five predictions of theWerder Bremen preview were correct. That makes it five out of ten correct bold predictions in total.