Schalke 04: fitness, calm in the storm, Thiaw – provisional conclusion at the beginning | football news

FC Schalke 04 have been waiting for a win in the Bundesliga for 467 days. Although still without a trio, the Bundesliga returnee has started the new season properly. However, the first three appearances also raised four questions.

Three games, two points, 13th place: The prominent climber can be quite pleased with his early record. “Two more points would have been even better. It’s okay overall, but there’s still room for improvement,” summed up Marius Bülter.

The score actually could have been a bit better. At the start in Cologne, the royal blues had no luck with the VAR. Rodrigo Zalazar’s alleged opening goal could have counted, especially ahead of Cologne’s draw in Frankfurt. Also, the more than arguable red card against Dominick Drexler in the middle of the first half had a big impact on the game.

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Marius Bülter still sees potential for improvement at FC Schalke, but at the same time he doesn’t want to speak ill of everything after the first three matchdays.

In the goalless draw at Wolfsburg, Simon Terodde had two chances from the penalty spot to put his colors ahead at the half-time whistle. Be that as it may: Had, ifs and buts are not the categories Schalke should be dealing with. “The bottom line is that they can be absolutely satisfied,” he agrees. darling Schalke reporter Dirk Grosse Schlarmann. However, the start of the season raised four questions.

1. Does Schalke have any fitness problems?

First the positive aspect: Schalke covered a lot of kilometers in the first three days. Expressed in numbers: 341.7 kilometers. This puts the club in eighth place in the league rankings, despite the team being outnumbered for more than half in Cologne. The problem: Schalke run a lot, but run out too quickly. That was made more than clear in the recent away game in Wolfsburg.

Lower Saxony were far superior in the second half, the guests on the other hand barely able to provide the slightest bit of relief as the game went on, not to mention the danger of scoring. A final offensive like that of co-promoted Werder Bremen in the 3-2 win at Dortmund seems unthinkable at the moment.

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The mileage is basically good, but the FC Schalke players cramped in the final minutes against VFL Wolfsburg. Sky reporter Dirk Große Schlarmann on Schalke’s possible fitness problems.

“They’re fit and they run a lot, but they don’t allocate their energy properly,” he says. darling Schalke reporter Dirk Grosse Schlarmann. Rodrigo Zalazar is a symbol of this. The Uruguayan has a dynamic game with expansive steps, but this is also very tiring. The midfielder was substituted in all three games between the 60th and 70th minute because he simply ran out of breath. And he is far from alone in that.

“Until now we have played against teams that are very good with the ball and where you have to chase them down a lot. Of course, that requires a lot of strength,” explains attacker Simon Bülter. Schalke’s top scorer so far (two goals this season) has a solution to the more than obvious problem: “We have to try to have more phases of the game in which we can recover with the ball. That will be the key to success.”

Especially in this area the miners have to improve considerably. With an average ball possession of just 32.6 per cent, the promoted team sits at the bottom of the league-wide comparison. For comparison: the penultimate Union Berlin has a value of 43.3 percent in this category. Small periods of ball possession have a big impact. Schalke also play by far the fewest passes (663) and also have the worst passing rate (69.8 per cent).

“It’s also a question of development that we have to improve from game to game. Of course, we don’t aim to have 30 percent ball possession in every game,” Bülter said. darling Clear demand and added: “We also know that we have to find solutions with the ball.”

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After two points from three games, FC Schalke finally want their first win against Union Berlin next weekend. For Marius Bülter, the division of powers is particularly important.

In any case, these statistics are not surprising. Lots of mileage, little ball possession, few passes: this is exactly the style that coach Frank Kramer formed in his previous season in Bielefeld. So Schalke were aware of what they would get from the 50-year-old.

In short: Schalke put in a lot of effort, the mileage is correct, but not more than 90 minutes. “Even if the club does not communicate it to the outside world because the mileage is correct: it will definitely have to be addressed,” Grosse Schlarmann believes. Especially since there are other calibers waiting for the traditional club besides Cologne, Gladbach or Wolfsburg…

2. Against whom do Schalke want to win?

Home game against Union Berlin, away at VfB Stuttgart, home against VfL Bochum and away against arch-rivals Dortmund: this is what Schalke’s schedule looks like in the coming weeks. The second-half appearance in Wolfsburg is cause for concern. The Royal Blues were hopelessly underdogs against a team that currently lacks self-confidence and is more likely to be ranked between eighth and eleventh place.

One thing is for sure: if U04 continue to manage their energy as poorly as they have in the past, there is a risk of a rude awakening against the likes of Dortmund, Bayern or Leipzig. “Schalke completely lost the thread against Wolfsburg. They exhausted themselves so much that they lost their concentration at the back. After winning the ball, the ball often came right back to the opponent,” says Grosse Schlarmann.

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Jordan Larsson is one of the FC Schalke 04 contenders. But the agile striker still needs some time to find his rhythm after missed preparation.

That is why Schalke is currently not on an equal footing with would-be competitors like Stuttgart or Bremen. “Stuttgart plays much more aggressively, Bremen acts in a more structured way and relies on an attacking style of play. This way they can put pressure on their opponents,” concludes Große Schlarmann.

This has rarely been the case at Schalke, with the exception of a solid first half in a 2-2 win against Gladbach. The important home game against Bochum on Matchday 6 could therefore become a sign. Grosse Schlarmann: “Schalke should be more or less on a par with Bochum. Other than that, I don’t see many other teams apart from Augsburg.”

3. When will Terodde & Polter meet?

Simon Terodde and Sebastian Polter have been unlucky so far this season. Both remain goalless and each has missed a penalty (Terodde twice against Wolfsburg, Polter in the cup against Bremer SV). However, the two boxing strikers are not really benefiting from Schalke’s current style of play. Goal area stunts inside the penalty area are rare.

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Instead, Terodde and Polter are currently “the stoppers trying to tie up the balls and give the players time to recover,” says Grosse Schlarmann, describing the role of the two center forwards. If Schalke maintain their current style of play, the duo will likely only have a few first-class scoring opportunities. However, these must be recycled.

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That didn’t look good! Sebastian Polter had to stop training at FC Schalke prematurely with a badly bandaged thigh. This means his appearance against Union Berlin on Saturday is questionable.

Curious: On Saturday both Terodde and Polter meet their former club Union Berlin, with a question mark behind Polter’s engagement. The 31-year-old had to leave training on Tuesday with a badly bandaged thigh.

4. What about Malick Thiaw’s bright spot?

The German under-21 international is one of the strengths of the start of the season. With his speed and heading power, the youngster is good for the Schalke defence, with the experienced Maya Yoshida at his side, he has so far formed a pairing of central defenders that works well. But how long?

There have been many inquiries for the talented defender and there is a lot of interest, especially from Italy. “I think he is a player who will not take the next step at Schalke. He needs a different environment for that,” Grosse Schlarmann assesses the situation.

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Malick Thiaw has impressed in recent games at FC Schalke 04. However, the central defender could leave the Royal Blues this summer. He probably has takers from Italy.

So far, Thiaw has been unfazed by speculation about himself. On the contrary. “If there is an offer of between eight and ten million euros, Schalke will double,” predicts Große Schlarmann. Even if it hurt sportingly, the miners could not do without such a millionaire transfer fee due to the financial situation.

If the 21-year-old were to go up for sale, Schalke would probably pin their hopes on Leo Greiml. The plan is not without risk. The Austrian arrived on a free transfer from Rapid Vienna in the summer but had to sit out for months due to torn cruciate ligaments. On the regional league team, the 21-year-old has at least earned some match practice.

More about the author Robin Schmidt

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