Hertha Berlin 2 -2 Schalke Ben-Hatira 21, Haraguchi 81; Sané 40, Matip 90
If one goes by the Royal Blues history of effervescent potential but mundane results, the game after their midweek victory over European champions Real Madrid would be a loss or draw against struggling Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin on Saturday. That this prediction turned out correct is hearsay as to the important matters of why this happened as well as the challenges/opportunities that lie ahead for the club.
The reasons for the disappointing draw are a combination of the incredibly poor goaltending of Timon Wellenreuther (minus the one save he made in the second half), questionable substitutions by Roberto DI Matteo (pulling out both Max Meyer and Leroy Sané!?)and an overall lack of dynamic intensity that the club displayed against Real Madrid. Not surprising.
There were however some bright spots from the game. Most notably was Leroy Sané. The stock of this Essen-born teenager has increased a billion times tenfold within one week. His speed and agility plus deadly shooting capabilities showed again today. This time he scored on a chip over Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft in the fortieth minute. He was given the starting role today after Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting pulled a thigh in prematch training, and certainly earned the chance based on his golazzo against Real Madrid.
The club played a similar formation to what was done against Madrid (3-1-4-2), along with the same starting lineup, minus Sané for EMCM. Kevin Prince-Boateng was back on the bench, wisely not chosen as a starter but did come on for Sane in the seventy-ninth minute.
With regards to Wellenreuther, as much as he has deserved acclaim for a number of incredible stops and that he is young, his errors are now starting to make his starting position seem somewhat painful for the side as they still await the return of Ralf Fahrmann. Today both goals scored by Hertha were balls that Wellenreuther could not hold onto. A frustration for the impatient Schalke supporter.
In the first half, Schalke controlled play but lacked movement in the last third of the field. The second half saw Hertha Berlin have the majority of opportunities for what was overall a forgettable match with regards to excitement. Overall, despite Schalke having the lion’s share of possession, Hertha Berlin were equal on shots on goal and it took Joel Matip’s late header, from Christian Fuchs, for the Royal Blues to come away with a point.
The next match is a crucial matchup on March 21 versus Leverkusen at Veltins as Schalke remain adrift in fifth.
1. Leroy Sané-a beautiful goal and his presence had a major impact upon the game. He led Schalke with three attempts on goal. Why was he taken off?
2. Tranquillo Barnetta-continuing to show he is starter-worthy leading the team with 11.51 km covered, four crosses and 100 touches.
3. Joel Matip-making up for a goal he should have scored a few minutes earlier with a comfortable header into the net at the 90th minute to at least prevent defeat for the Royal Blues.
Important news: *Sead Kolasinac played 76 minutes for Schalke II today. His return would definitely be welcomed and needed.
*even better, both Julian Draxler and Jefferson Farfan, albeit Farfan on a tentative basis, are back in training.
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