Our first taste of Bundesliga football this season has been interrupted by an international break where top players from every Bundesliga side travel far and wide to meet up with their national team-mates and battle it out for European Championship qualification. It’s always interesting to see which Bundesliga players find their form during their national break, and how many of them can ride that vein of form back into the Bundesliga season.
New Schalke signing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has yet to make his debut for the Konigsblauen, gave an excellent performance with the Netherlands against San Marino last night. While San Marino aren’t the most formidable of opponents, a hat-trick is always a sign of top form from a striker, or from any player for that matter. Huntelaar was being played sparingly during his time with Real Madrid and then AC Milan, so he will be delighted with the fact that he will be a key man in Magath’s Schalke side this season. If he can continue his form, there is no reason why he can’t be top goalscorer by the end of the term.
Schalke have also signed legendary Spanish striker Raul this summer, but so far Raul has not been banging in the goals that many expected him to. This is more down to the players surrounding Raul rather than Raul himself. Playing alongside Edu is not the same as playing alongside Huntelaar. While Edu is a decent player, he just doesn’t have the quality or the extra bit of class that Huntelaar has. A Raul-Huntelaar duo up top for Schalke looks absolutely deadly on paper, and let’s hope they can produce on the pitch as well.
The service to Schalke’s frontmen must also be top notch for the strikers to perform to perform at their highest levels. The signing of Jose Manuel Jurado, a playmaker with the flair and dribbling ability of a young Deco, will provide just that for Magath’s side. Huntelaar has always thrived on finishing attacking opportunities, not beginning them. If Jurado can get the ball to Raul and Huntelaar in and around the 18-yard box, we’ll be yelling GOAL! before either striker has even taken the shot.
With a front three like Schalke’s, with Huntelaar and Raul sitting up top, and Jurado playing in behind them as a trequartista, there is nearly a guarantee that Schalke will provide some fantastic football. While their defending is really a bit of a let down at present, they’ll not need to worry if they can put the ball in the back of the net at will and outscore their opponents.
Schalke’s next matches are away to Hoffenheim and then away to Lyon in the Champions League. Not the easiest games to be debuting in for Huntelaar, but with the form he’s recently shown with the Netherlands, I expect him to shine regardless of his opponents because of the quality players Schalke now have in attack.
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