Form: Long winless run ended
After 30 consecutive Bundesliga matches without a win, Schalke ended their barren run with a 4-0 victory at home to Hoffenheim last time out. Their previous win in the top flight came nearly a year ago on 17 January 2020, when they beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0.
The win over Hoffenheim moved Schalke above Mainz and into 17th place, four points shy of the relegation play-off place. The Gelsenkirchen side have conceded 39 goals this season, the most in the league, while only Arminia Bielefeld (10) have scored fewer than their 12 goals.
|FC Schalke 04 2020/21|
|Stats||1 win, 4 draws, 10 defeats, 12:39 goal difference, 7 points, 17th in the table|
|Goalscorers||Hoppe (3), Raman (2), Uth (2), Boujellab (1), Harit (1), Paciencia (1), Thiaw (1)|
Tactics: Finding the right mix
New head coach Christian Gross has adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation for his first two games in charge, counting on a mixture of experience, fighting spirit and fresh faces. The back four against Hoffenheim consisted of Timo Becker, Ozan Kabak, Matija Nastasic and Sead Kolasinac, who has returned to Schalke on loan from Arsenal. Benjamin Stambouli and Suat Serdar form the holding midfield pair, with Amine Harit, Mark Uth and Alessandro Schöpf occupying the three attacking midfield positions. Matthew Hoppe has been lining up as the lone striker.
One to watch: Matthew Hoppe
Hoppe breathed new life into Schalke’s relegation battle with his hat-trick on the last matchday. The 19-year-old moved to the Ruhr region in 2019 from the Barca Academy in America, and made his Bundesliga debut in the 4-1 defeat at Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 9 of this season. The striker is the youngest Schalke player, and the first ever American, to net a hat-trick in Germany’s top flight.