Despite a few injuries and a suspension, there was a positive Royal Blue vibe heading into this match. They were playing against a Wolfsburg side, who despite their illustrious season, had an incredibly awful performance in Thursday’s first leg of the Europa quarterfinals at home to Napoli. The Wolves’ magic seems to have faded away with Bas Dost’s scoring touch.
This goes along with Schalke’s impressive results against the top-tier sides under Roberto Di Matteo. Along with the breathtaking road victory against Real Madrid, Schalke had already defeated Wolfsburg once and drawn twice with Bayern Munich this season. Most importantly, this match saw the reemergence of Leroy Sane, the wonder boy, who helped lift them to victory over Real Madrid.
Sane started in place of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who was absent due to illness. This team change went along with Marvin Friedrich replacing injured Matija Nastasic and Roman Neustader (whom likely should be the starter anyways) in place of a suspended Marco Hoger.
Players such as Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sidney Sam were aptly not even in the line-up.
After a respectable first half from Schalke’s 4-2-3-1 formation, the major talking point of the game was the breathless goal by Sane, after a run from his own penalty box to deliver one of the Bundesliga’s goals of the season. Sane continues to show loads of talent and superstar potential. When in the line-up, the Di Matteo philosophy of negative play is thrown out the window, and Schalke come alive. Max Meyer particularly seems to have new energy and attacking force when Sane plays alongside him.
That being said, Wolfsburg did control most of the second half and were unfortunate to not come out as victors. This was thanks to goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann, who showed again why he is such a valuable commodity. Saves on players like De Bruyne and Ivan Perisic were top-notch.
So, instead of picking out the best of the worst or relying on statistics alone, the top two in the three stars selection this week are easy. It is rare that Schalke can boast of having two great individual performances in one game.
- Leroy Sane – What is Di Matteo thinking in not playing him more often? Now is the time, while there is little to lose.
- Ralf Fahrmann – Definitely his most impressive match of 2015. If Fahrmann can stay injury-free, then there is no blurred lines about who is THE number one.
- Marvin Friedrich – For coming into his first match since match day 7, filling the big shoes of Nastasic, and doing his job, helping the squad to appear organized and put-together.
With last week’s mentions about changes to management necessary, we now have to look at the necessary changes in player selection over the transfer window. These could indeed be the last matches for Benedikt Hoewedes, as his “no Champions League” escape clause will come into play.
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