Germany: Bundesliga
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Schalke 04
O. Kabak (84), M. Uth (90)
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By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Schalke-Bremen "crisis-summit" to take place before empty stands

As expected, officials in Gelsenkirchen have declared that this evening's Schalke-Bremen fixture will take place before closed doors after all. Germany's press has already taken to labelling the match a "Krisen-Gipfel" (or "crisis summit") for reasons related to the form of both squads.
Schalke's section of the Ruhr region officially climbed over the 7-day-running-average of 35 new COVID infections per 100,000 inhabitants on Saturday. As a result, club officials invoked Germany's RKI data-driven stabilizer and declared their upcoming clash against Bremen would be played as a Geisterpiel.

The news comes after it was revealed yesterday that Schalke's Amine Harit tested positive for COVID 19. Schalke becomes the second Bundesliga club, after three FSV Mainz players were found to have had a small cluster in training camp, to have one of their first-team players become infected with the virus during the 2020/21 campaign. FC Köln and FC Union Berlin players dealt with the novel virus in the spring.

Many tickets were sold for the Saturday evening encounter and nearly 12,000 fans were expected at the Veltins-Arena. Schalke must now refund a significant amount of money to those who purchased passes.

The match itself constitutes what Germans presently term a "crisis summit". Two of the Bundesliga's arguably worst teams shall get an opportunity to turn their fledgling seasons around and, in the process, likely spare their under-fire head-coaches a sacking.

It's fair to say that neither Florian Kohfeldt nor David Wagner would have held onto their jobs last season had the pandemic not struck. Financial limitations at both clubs prevented the respective organizations from engaging in costly regime changes. Extremely poor Bundesliga debuts from both sides demonstrate that neither team has progressed much since the last campaign.

The 0-8 thrashing at Bayern last week means that Königsblauen have now gone winless in an astonishing 17 consecutive competitive fixtures. This includes nearly the entire half of last season. Germany's Knappen were even denied a chance to warm up against a softer Pokal opponent when their opening round fixture against amateur side FC Schweinfurt was cancelled.

The number 17 holds some significance for the Hanseaten of Bremen as well. The team has been unable to come back in the last 17 competitive matches in which they've fallen behind; a trend rarely seen at Germany's top footballing level.

Both squads obtain perhaps their best opportunity to turn their fortunes around in this match. The better team will gain some early momentum in what shall be a long and difficult season. If the match isn't drawn, the losing coach may very well find himself out of a job.

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