Week 27: Schalke fail to rise

FC Augsburg 0-0 FC Schalke 04

On Easter Sunday 2015, following a day in which each of the top four Bundesliga squads gained three more points, both Schalke and their opponents were facing a situation in which a victory was necessary for a 2015/16 Champions League berth to be feasible. Schalke failed to rise to the occasion in this dismally displayed match from both sides and now have to resign themselves to a Europa League position in which they are struggling to hold onto.

One major issue in this game that has been symbolic of the squad’s shortcomings for the year, was the lack of firepower on offence. Players such as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and, to a lesser extent, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Max Meyer once again failed to put the ball in net when needed.  For Huntelaar in particular this year has been highly disappointing. In his injury-plagued season, he has only scored on seven occasions, the last dating back to November 29th. In Sunday’s match, he had four shots, one of which was in front of the keeper, but still failed to deliver. Despite 58% ball possession, Schalke could make little out of what opportunities they had and the term underwhelming definitely rings a bell with this squad.

I will try however to resound the positive from Week 27. The starting 3-5-2 saw the return of Ralf Fahrmann, whose steady hands have been deeply missed in net. While only facing three shots on net, a blank sheet is a positive way for Fahrmann to return.

There was also Leon Goretzka making his first start of 2014/15. Unfortunately, due to reported thigh issues, Goretzka was taken out after only fifteen minutes and substituted by Dennis Aogo.

The brightest news of the day was the return of Jefferson Farfan. The Peruvian came on in the second half and added spark to a lacklustre offence, putting up impressive numbers such as fourteen tackles. His performance today embodied the spark the Royal Blue need in midfield.

Defensively, the team did earn a blank sheet, despite almost being caught napping when they moved the ball forward, especially in the first half. Matija Nastasic made a few impressive clearances, as well as fifteen tackles.

For the rest of 2014/15, it is best Schalke concentrate in holding onto their fifth place position in the league and start to ask themselves about whom should stay or go (it is best all concerned start thinking hard about this). Week 28’s opponent will SC Freiburg.

Three stars:

1. Jefferson Farfan-those of you who are not Schalke followers may not know how satisfying this feels to make him the Royal Blue star of the game once more.

2. Ralf Fahrmann-steady goaltending may be coming our way again. If only he was around for Real Madrid’s game….

3. Matija Nastasic-should be given due credit for his consistency at the back.

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