Time to dive into Gelsenkirchen and preview how important Schalke 04's season is not just on the pitch, but also off it.
|Schalke 04 are in unchartered territory and are in the wilderness with many of the German football's great teams. How will they fare in a league filled with 'big' teams?|
Manager: Dimitrios Grammozis
Stadium: VELTINS Arena
Founded: 4 May 1904
Nicknames: Die Königsblauen (The Royal Blues) Die Knappen (The Miners)
Pre-season start: June 17th
Training camp: June 29th to July 10th in Mittersill, Austria
Friendlies: June 23: PSV Wesel-Lackhausen 8:0 , June 27: SF Hamborn 07 14:0, July 3: Zenit St. Petersburg 0:0, July 9: Shakhtar Donetsk 0:0, July 16: Vitesse Arnhem 2:1
Schalke started their pre-season earlier than many 2. Bundesliga sides and have had a couple of goalless draws against 'superior' opposition Zenit St. Petersburg and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Summer signings and departures
Additions: Dries Wouters (KRC Genk), Yaroslav Mikhailov (Zenit St. Petersburg, loan), Marius Bülter (1. FC Union Berlin), Marvin Pieringer (Sport-Club Freiburg, loan), Reinhold Ranftl (ASK Linz), Thomas Ouwejan (AZ Alkmaar), Marcin Kaminski (VfB Stuttgart), Victor Palsson (SV Darmstadt 98), Simon Terodde (Hamburger SV), Danny Latza (1. FSV Mainz 05), Sebastian Rudy (TSG Hoffenheim, loan ends), Jonas Carls (Vitoria Guimaraes, loan ends), Ozan Kabak (FC Liverpool, loan ends), Rabbi Matondo (Stoke City, loan ends), Florian Flick (own U23), Rabbi Matondo (Stoke City, loan ends)
Departures: Benito Raman (RSC Anderlecht), Markus Schubert (Vitesse Arnheim), Ahmed Kutucu (Istanbul Basaksehir, was previously loaned to Heracles Almelo), Bernard Tekpetey (Ludogorets Razgrad), Sebastian Rudy (TSG Hoffenheim), Suat Serdar (Hertha BSC), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (unknown), Jonas Carls (SC Paderborn), Weston McKennie (Juventus Turin, signed on after loan), William (VfL Wolfsburg, loan ends), Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal FC, loan ends) , Nabil Bentaleb (contract end), Goncalo Paciencia (Eintracht Frankfurt, loan ends), Frederik Rönnow (Eintracht Frankfurt, loan ends), Kilian Ludewig (RB Salzburg, loan ends), Benjamin Stambouli (contract end), Bastian Oczipka (contract end), Alessandro Schöpf (end of contract), Shkodran Mustafi (end of contract)
Everyone knows about Schalke's financial issues and the main priority for new managing director Rouven Schröder was to offload the big contracts. The departures of Suat Serdar, Klass-Jan Huntelaar, Weston McKennie, Sead Kolasinac and Nabil Bentaleb has been a big help and simply needed to get off the wage bill. Schröder has also made some nice signings with the limited budget, Simon Terodde probably the best of the lot. Schalke couldn't need Mr. 2. Bundesliga more right now.
First six matches
Matchday 1 - vs Hamburger SV (H), Friday 24th July, 20:30 local
Matchday 2 - vs Holstein Kiel (A), Sunday 1st August, 13:30 local
Matchday 3 - vs Erzgebirge Aue (H), Friday 13th August, 18:30 local
Matchday 4 - vs Jahn Regensburg (A), Saturday 21st August, 13:30 local
Matchay 5 - vs Fortuna Düsseldorf (H), Saturday 28th August, 20:30 local
Matchday 6 - vs SC Paderborn 07 (A), Sunday 12th October, 13:30 local
As I've already mentioned in the article above. Wherever Simon Terodde goes, the team usually does quite well (unless you're HSV.) He scores for fun, even at 33 years old and defenders are scared of him. If Schalke players get the ball to him in and around the box, he'll score more than he misses. A huge signing and will bag a lot of goals in Gelsenkirchen.
As Dimitrios Grammozis was assistant to Thomas Reis, VfL Bochum coach, in 2014 the best comparison I've got of his tactics is Bochum last season. A pragmatic 4-2-3-1, one which values the expression of individual players. Grammozis keeps a tight leash in the dressing room and like Reis, Grammozis is a character and is difficult to work with.
Grammozis finished 5th with Darmstadt 98 in 2019/20, scoring 48 goals and conceding 43. He played a 4-2-3-1 most frequently, only switching to a 3-5-2 and 5-3-2 on the final few games of the season. Even though he was thrown into a deep pool with sharks in so far in his tenure at Schalke, he's played a three-at-the-back formation in every single match in his 11 fixtures.
The writer's opinion
Schalke have been smart in the market this summer and still have a very good squad for the new campaign, even with the magnitude of some of the departures. They will be up there, winning more games than losing but I just don't know if they will be the real deal. In a highly competitive division with loads of very good and strong teams, only two can promote automatically and one have a chance in the playoffs. For that reason, I have to make a bold prediction somewhere, I can't just predict all the 'biggest' teams to go up because that just never happens. So, I think Schalke will miss out and finish outside the promotion places. Sorry, S04 fans.
Writer's prediction: 5th
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