Felix Magath’s struggling Schalke side will host promoted side St. Pauli this Friday afternoon, and will be looking for maximum points. Schalke, who just barely missed out on the Bundesliga title last year, are rooted to the bottom of the league on six points – and one win – from their first ten matches.
Magath has criticized the form of legendary Spanish striker Raul – who has found the net just once in the league this season. Another summer signing, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, has found the back of the net five times, but could and should be scoring much more. The problem, at least as I see it, has been service to Schalke’s forwards from the midfield. Jose Jurado has been inconsistent, Jefferson Farfan and Rakitic haven’t been on-form regularly enough, and Schalke have been unable to retain possession for any length of time with just Peer Kluge or Jermaine Jones playing the holding role. With Jurado, Farfan and Rakitic in the midfield, there seems to be a great imbalance between attack and defense. With Schalke’s back-four already being so weak this season, it may be time to try a 4-5-1 where two players hold the midfield and protect the back-four from opposition attacks. Playing so daringly, and scoring so few goals, is costing Schalke right now.
It is unlikely Magath will change his ways, though. Here’s a probable lineup:
Neuer – Uchida, Metzelder, Howedes, Sergio – Kluge – Rakitic, Farfan – Jurado – Raul, Huntelaar
St. Pauli are on a two-match losing streak, but against Schalke they’ll know they have a chance at grabbing a result. St. Pauli manager Holger Stanislawski will let his know that the pressure is on their opponents, and that they can head out onto the pitch and play their game and force mistakes out of their struggling hosts. St. Pauli followers will travel in number to Schalke, and the support for the kult side will be strong here, despite the travel.
St. Pauli defender Carlos Zambrano, who is on-loan from Schalke, has been lauded by Stanislawski as one of the best young defenders in the league. Schalke certainly look like they could use the young center-half, who will do battle against his own club this afternoon. Gerald Asamoah, who is also on-loan, will not feature, because of a suspension after a red-card he earned last weekend.
Kessler – Lechner, Zambrano, Thorandt, Oczipka – Bartels, Lehmann, Boll, Bruns – Ebbers, Hennings
It’ll be a tight match, and one that Schalke should win.
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