Stuttgart 2 (Hamik ’22, Kostic ’51)
Schalke: 3 (Huntelaar ‘9, ’78, Klein OG ’89)
For a victory that was hardly an impressive accomplishment on the 111th anniversary of the Royal Blue, Matchday 31’s win over VfB Stuttgart did allow two wily veterans to make their mark for S04. For Schalke, defeating one of the worst Bundesliga teams at home was not accomplished until the last minute.
Schalke did end up winning their first match since March 7th. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored a brace with his first Bundesliga goals of 2015. Two formerly injured players, Jefferson Farfan and Julian Draxler, had their most impressive matches since returning. For added bitter-sweetness, all of this was done in the presence of one of the greatest Schalke managers of the modern age, Huub Stevens, who manned the opponent’s dugout.
However, S04’s victory does not let Roberto Di Matreo off of the hook, especially when one examines his most recent list of disappoints: S04 only have a Europa spot left to fight for, two players were involved an altercation earlier in the week (Dennis Aogo and Max Meyer), and again Max Meyer was left out of the starting 11.
Neverthelessless, what got Schalke back into this match, after falling behind 2-1 in the second half, were substitutions. Draxler replaced Farfan, which energized the offence as Draxker displaying some of his amazing potential. Additionally, when Kevin-Prince Boateng surprisingly replaced Eric Maxim-Choupo Moting at 63′, the veteran produced flashes of what he played like a year ago. (However, an observation that does not change my mind – he has to go). Finally, when Meyer replaced the (once again) underwhelming Leon Goretzka at 71’, Schalke were able to seize momentum and capitalize on opportunities. They displayed an intensity that has been sorely lacking for the second half of this season.
Their next match is against Cologne, and S04 have to play the match without Huntelaar and perhaps Marco Höger.
- Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: whenever he scores, such as the brace today, he looks deadly and efficient. Sigh.
- Dennis Aogo: he led the team in distance covered, runs, sprints, crosses and touches. He made a case to be in the starting eleven.
- Kevin-Prince Boateng: he is getting slower, more toxic in his relations with teammates and overall, a player that needs to be let go. Yet he came up big today and basically won Schalke the game. One final applause is allowed.
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