Schalke advanced to the round of 16 of the DFB Cup with a convincing 2-0 victory over Hannover tonight. Heiko Westermann scored both goals as Fred Rutten’s men were just too good for the injury-riddled Reds. And while this game continues a good run of form for the Gelsenkirchen club, it emphasizes the dire straits in which Dieter Hecking finds himself currently. His side is riddled with injuries and is now severely lacking in confidence. They seemed consigned to the final outcome from the start. Without a victory soon, they will be dragged into a season long relegation battle.
1. A Haiku for Heiko
He transcends tactics
Defends, attacks and poaches
Heiko, Goal machine!
Five goals for the defender turned midfielder. I will reiterate my previous hope that he gets consideration for player of the year at season’s end if he continues to play so well.
2. Croat for Sale!
Okay, seeing as my Haiku was terrible, I thought it best to play with the title of the famous children’s book to create one of the worst puns ever. Did you forget about the Heiko? See, it worked.
I can’t see Ivan Rakatic being around by the end of January. The kid was outstanding last year in his first campaign for the Royal Blues. Now he finds himself relegated to second half sub, even in cup games. And to be fair, it’s not like Jefferson Farfan has been good enough to force the issue. He’s been okay. He’s just preferred by Rutten, because of the Eredivisie familiarity. This preferential treatment is going to drive Rakatic, one of the best young players in the league, away. And with England loaded with money and enchanted by youth, Rakatic will be easily tempted away in January. And that’s a shame for Schalke and the Bundesliga.
3. Vicente Sánchez
I know that Asamoah is a legend at Schalke. But if tonight showed anything, it is that Sanchez should be starting on the right wing of Rutten’s 4-3-3. He was relentless and tore Hannover apart. While Asamoah gives you determination and work ethic, Sanchez gives you class and creativity. It’s time he starts getting more time, especially since the Dutch style fits his abilities.
4. Klinsmann Thinks You’re Cute
It seems that the Robert Enke has heard the current rumor that Bayern Munich is making enquiries about him. His defense might be fairly porous, but he has been extremely solid these past three games. He was the difference between a 7 or 8 goals and just the two conceded tonight with good command of his box, excellent shot-stopping and good organization. Hecking better take advantage of the rumor and get some points while he has the superb keeper.
5. Sal Zizzo
I’ve now watched the young American come on during the last two games. He has made no contribution to the team. His movement lacks threat and he clearly doesn’t understand how to shake a marker. He moved to early, and might be better being loaned down to a Zweite side for a season; however, Hecking can’t afford to let bodies go at the moment.
FC Erzgebirge Aue 1:2 Werder Bremen
Energie Cottbus 3:0 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Mainz 3:1 FC Köln
Eintracht Frankfurt 1:2 Hansa Rostock
1860 Munich 0:0 MSV Duisburg (1860 won 5:4 on penalties)
FC Augsburg 0:2 Bayer Leverkusen