Borussia Mönchengladbach haven’t won an away match in Gelsenkirchen since Udo Lattek coached Schalke in 1992. Today’s wasteful performance by the Royal Blues almost changed that.
Schalke were going into this match only having won one of their last five matches in the Bundesliga. Out of the last ten matches between the two sides 9 of them ended in a home win, whilst one ended in a draw. The stats going into the match were firmly in favor of Schalke, who needed a win in order to keep up with Leverkusen, their arch rivals Dortmund and runaway leaders Bayern München.
Tactics and line up
Lucien Favre chose to play his version of a 4-4-2 system, giving Patrick Herrmann the freedom to roam freely, while preferring the more mobile de Carmargo ahead of Mike Hanke. Wingers Rupp and Arango weren’t swapping their sides as often as they have done previously this season, while Thorben Marx was given greater licence to roam forward than usual, leaving Håvard Nordtveit with a bit more defending to do.
Huub Stevens brought in four new players into his starting line up. The most notable change was between the sticks, where Timo Hildebrand replaced Lars Unnerstall. Draxler, Holtby and Matip made their returns to the starting line up as well, replacing Obasi, Pukki and Papadopoulos. Schalke played in their usual 4-2-3-1 system.
1st half: Schalke dominate proceedings, but fail to create clear-cut chances
The less said about this half football the better. The game started on a promising note, however. Draxler marched down the left hand flank, and found Holtby with a lovely pass in the penalty area, but the former Mainz missed the goal by a few inches.
Gladbach concentrated all their efforts trying to defend their goal against the Royal Blues for the rest of the half. Schalke managed on nine occasions to create a shot, but six of them came from outside the area. Gladbach on the other hand side managed only to create one shot throughout the entire first half.
2nd half: Hildebrand’s error gifts Gladbach the lead
The second half picked up where the first had ended. Schalke were trying to their best of their abilities to create chances, whilst Gladbach main concern was to be tidy in defense. This stalemate lasted for 17 minutes. Joel Matip misplaced a pass in his own half in the 62nd minute, missing Roman Neustädter and gifting the ball to Gladbach’s Thorben Marx, who sent Igor de Carmargo on his way with his first touch. The Belgian striker’s finish came towards the middle of the goal, but got past a rusty Timo Hildebrand in the Schalke goal, giving the guests a very flattering 1-0 lead.
For a little while it looked like Gladbach were stealing away all three points from the Veltins Arena. Julian Draxler’s shot in the 64th minute was kept out by the excellent ter Stegen. Jermaine Jones header from 7 meters lacked power and precision and ended up in the arms of Gladbach’s goalie. The American international even managed to send a shot over the bar from 9 meters in the 81st minute. Schalke had picked up their game after Gladbach had taken the lead, but failed to capitalize on several decent chances.
The Royal Blues salvaged at a point from the game in the end: Jefferson Farfan’s run down the right hand flank saw him advance past two Gladbach players, before he passed the ball into the run of Teemu Pukki, who quickly advanced into Gladbach’s penalty area. The Finn squared the ball towards the far post, where Julian Draxler touched the ball over the line from short distance.
Man of the match: Julian Draxler
Whenever Schalke came to close to the Gladbach goal, producing any sort of dangerous attack, Draxler was involved in it. Draxler did in fact manage to shoot five times at the Gladbach goal, The Foals by comparison managed to create six shots in total. The Germany international had a decent game in a match that saw most of the players on the park performing below par.
Conclusion: Schalke continue to struggle
Schalke are slowly, but surely starting to feel the pressure of having to play in three different competitions at the same time. Huub Stevens hasn’t been prone to rotation so far this season, and his four swaps in today’s starting line up is a departure from the strategy the Dutch coach has been following so far. Taking a total of 2 points from the three matches against Eintracht Frankfurt, Hamburger SV and Borussia Mönchengladbach isn’t a satisfactory outcome of Die Englische Woche for Schalke, especially given the fact that two of the three matches were played at the Veltins Arena. Jermaine Jones pointed out after the game at Hamburg that there wasn’t enough movement on the pitch. Schalke seem tired, and they might be in desperate need for a well deserved rest during the winter break.
The Foals on the other hand have managed to gather five points during the three matches of Die Englische Woche. Lucie Favre’s men are currently only two points behind a Europa League spot. The next two matches against Mainz and Bayern are going to determine where the team stands at the moment.
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Header courtesy of bild.de
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