Hoffenheim are in action on a Friday night for the second successive week as they travel to Gelsenkirchen to face a Schalke side potentially playing for their trainer’s future as well as important Bundesliga points.
The last ten days have already seen the departures of two Bundesliga trainers and if reports are to be believed Schalke’s Frank Kramer could be the third to go if his side do not get a positive result against Hoffenheim at the Veltins Arena to kick off matchday 10.
The Königsblauen have dropped to 16th in the table after three consecutive defeats and speaking after the 4-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen last week sporting director Rouwen Schröder seemed to imply that a lot was riding on the Hoffenheim game for coach Frank Kramer. “Our team’s performance today disappointed us immensely. The coaching staff around Frank Kramer, the team, we are all challenged to show an improved performance in all respects against Hoffenheim.”
Kramer has overseen just the one win this season over bottom side Bochum and there has been a lot of criticism over his team’s style (or lack of it) and ambition in games (or lack of it). The arrival of Hoffenheim will be a stern test with the Sinsheim club looking to bounce back from a last-gasp defeat to another promoted side Werder Bremen last Friday. Indeed, the difference in fates thus far for the promoted sides just illustrates what a poor season Schalke are having and the difference in outlooks of Ole Werner and Frank Kramer.
Andre Breitenreiter will return to Schalke where he was the trainer for the 2015-16 season looking to get his Hoffenheim side back up and running after three matches without a win (draws against Freiburg and Hertha and the loss to Werder).
He knows what it is like to face the pressure at the Veltins Arena, but he could end up being the one to administer the final fatal blow to Frank Kramer’s tenure of the Schalke hotseat. The two sides meet again next week in the DFB Pokal and it remains to be seen who Breitenreiter will face as S04 coach.
Alex Kral could drop into the back three in place of Maya Yoshida, who has struggled of late. Florent Mollet is another option to freshen up the line-up as are Jordan Larsson and Kenan Karaman. Sepp van den Berg and Rodrigo Zalazar remain out longer-term. The inclusion of Tobias Mohr is in doubt due to illness.
Possible line-up: Schwolow, Brunner, Kral, Greiml, Aydin, Krauß, Flick, Ouwejan, Mollet, Bülter, Terodde
Despite the loss to Werder last Friday, the performance was decent, and Andre Breitenreiter will have little reason to tinker with his line-up. Robert Skov should be fit despite being substituted against Werder as a precaution over an adductor issue.
Possible line-up: Baumann, Kabak, Vogt, Nsoki, Skov, Geiger, Angelino, Prömel, Kramaric, Baumgartner, Dabbur
What they’re saying:
Frank Kramer: “”We sat down after the game against Leverkusen and analysed the game accordingly. It is clear to us that a different attitude is expected of us, which we also want to show. We have to show a different intensity.
“In addition, we have to have the confidence that we can show ourselves more when we have the ball and that we want to reach the opposing goal together.”
Andre Breitenreiter: “We are preparing for the game on Friday. Since we don’t know the outcome, it’s difficult to worry about the second game. But we definitely want to advance another round in the cup. In the Bundesliga we want to go to Schalke, collect three points and reward ourselves for the good performances of the past few weeks when we didn’t manage that.
“It’s not the first time that I’ve met the Royal Blues after leaving Schalke. As a coach, it’s also quite normal that you meet a former club from time to time, that doesn’t trigger any different emotions in me than games against other clubs. I’ve never held grudges against Schalke either. It’s a fantastic club, I felt very comfortable there and I still have a lot of friends there. But it’s been six years since my time there – that’s in the past.
“We are prepared for a back three and four, most recently in Leverkusen they changed the system in the second half. We will try to take advantage of the weaknesses we have analysed. They have great players, and lately they’ve also been working more with long balls – we have to be prepared for that. They’re a strong team that throws everything in, and we’re expecting a great atmosphere.
“But we want to use it to our advantage, convey self-confidence and get into the game well. Above all, we want to put our stamp on the game and show that we want to win the game. I am confident that our quality will be reflected in the result.”
08.10.22 Bayer Leverkusen (a) 4-0 L (Bundesliga)
02.10.22 Augsburg (h) 2-3 L (Bundesliga)
17.09.22 Borussia Dortmund (a) 1-0 L (Bundesliga)
10.09.22 VfL Bochum (h) 3-1 W (Bundesliga)
03.09.22 VfB Stuttgart (a) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
07.10.22 Werder Bremen (h) 1-2 L (Bundesliga)
02.10.22 Hertha Berlin (a) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
18.09.22 Freiburg (h) 0-0 D (Bundesliga)
10.09.22 Mainz (h) 4-1 W (Bundesliga)
02.09.22 Borussia Dortmund (a) 1-0 L (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture last time in the 2020-21 season saw Schalke end a horrible winless run on matchday 15 with a 4-0 victory at the Veltins Arena. It was their first of the season and the first in 30 matches all told and finally removed the danger of becoming the team with the worst start to a season since Tasmania Berlin went 31 games without a win.
Matthew Hoppe scored a hattrick with Amine Harit adding a fourth for Christian Gross, who at the time was the latest incumbent in the Schalke dugout.
Players to watch:
A Schalke fan since childhood and apparently one of the few players still backing coach Frank Kramer, the midfield qualities Tom Krauß brings will be urgently needed when Schalke host Hoffenheim on Friday. The club are battling for points right now and the 21-year-old needs to continue his good form of late.
If Schalke need the youth of Tom Krauß, then Andre Breitenreiter will look to the experience of Andrej Kramaric to inflict the damage on a fragile Königsblauen back line. The veteran Croatian has three goals thus far, but you feel than one game soon against the right defence, he could easily add to that tally.