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Sch*lke Season Preview: On Bundesliga Titles...

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...and other unachievable dreams.

DSC Wanne-Eickel vs FC Schalke 04  - Friendly Match Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images

Fun fact: Whenever Borussia Dortmund has won/lost/drawn the Revierderby, Sch*lke has failed to win the Bundesliga.

FC 08 Villingen v FC Schalke 04 - DFB Cup Photo by Daniel Kopatsch/Bongarts/Getty Images

Sch*lke are consistent third/fourth place finishers in the Bundesliga (and often seen in the Champions League), but a history of mediocrity and ineptitude has prevented die Konigsblauen from achieving anything higher than that. Managers like Roberto Di Matteo and Andre Breitenreiter have been hired and fired in quick succession, and have failed to make any noticeable difference..

This season though, Sch*lke have Christian Heidel (ex-Mainz) as business manager and Markus Weinzierl (ex-Augsburg) as manager. Both men have a reputation for success - will this translate to success at Sch*lke?


Last Season's Results:

  • Bundesliga - Fifth with 52 points
  • Europa League - Round of 32 (lost to Shakhtar Donetsk)
  • DFB Pokal - Round 2 (lost to Borussia Bönchengladbach)

But more importantly:

  • Borussia Dortmund 3:2 Sch*lke
  • Sch*lke 2:2 Borussia Dortmund

Last season was very mediocre, even by Sch*lke standards. Julian Draxler's deadline-day sale to Wolfsburg set the mood for a disappointing fifth-place finish and early exits from both the cup and the EL.

Patchy form, uninspired tactics and defensive inconsistency lost Andre Breitenreiter the job and he was replaced by Markus Weinzierl. Meanwhile, Christian Heidel succeeded Horst Heldt.


Transfers:

Transfers in:

  • Breel Embolo (center forward) - from FC Basel
  • Naldo (center back) - from Wolfsburg
  • Coke (right back) - from Sevilla
  • Baba Rahman (left back) - from Chelsea (loan)

Transfers out:

  • Leroy Sané (midfield) - to Manchester City
  • Joël Matip (center back) - to Liverpool
  • Christian Clemens (midfield) - to Mainz
  • Roman Neustädter (central midfield) - to Fenerbahce
  • Marco Höger (central midfield) - to Köln
  • Marvin Friedrich (center back) - to Augsburg
  • Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (central midfield) - to Southampton (end of loan)
  • Younès Belhanda (attacking midfield) - to Dynamo Kiev (end of loan)

Strategy and Tactics:

FC 08 Villingen v FC Schalke 04 - DFB Cup Photo by Daniel Kopatsch/Bongarts/Getty Images

Back in Augsburg, Weinzierl was known for his aggressive/combative attack and disciplined defense. His playstyle was thorny and in-your-face. I expect more of the same at Sch*lke: high defensive workrate, lots of hard running and pressing, lots of box-to-box sprinting, lots of areal balls.

Nothing too out-of-the-box, and no wheel reinvention. But if Weinzierl hits the right groove, Sch*lke might be a bit scary.


Key Players:

FC Schalke 04 v FC Augsburg - Bundesliga Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Bongarts/Getty Images

Max Meyer: The 20 year old German prodigy is still their main player in attack and buildup.

FC 08 Villingen v FC Schalke 04 - DFB Cup Photo by Daniel Kopatsch/Bongarts/Getty Images

Leon Goretzka and Johannes Geis: This is the double-pivot pairing to watch. The hard-tackling 21 year old complements the 23 year old's creativity and range of passing.

FC 08 Villingen v FC Schalke 04 - DFB Cup Photo by Daniel Kopatsch/Bongarts/Getty Images

Baba Rahman: The 22 year old Ghanaian has worked with Weinzierl before at Augsburg, and can bring lots of energy and stability to Sch*lke.


2016/17 Predictions:

Weinzierl was known for his David vs. Goliath successes at Augsburg, but Sch*lke has a reputation of being a soft side that can't deliver consistent form. They have lost more than they gained in this transfer season. On the other hand, they have lots of hungry young players who have lots of potential.

I would say 85% chances on being in the EL, 45% chances of managing to score a CL spot, 0% chances of the title, and 1909% chances of us winning the derbies!