Schalke suffered a fourth successive loss to heap yet more pressure on their coach Frank Kramer with Hoffenheim (led by former S04 trainer Andre Breitenreiter) running out 3-0 winners at the Veltins Arena.
An 11th minute penalty blasted in by Robert Skov put the visitors in front before Munas Dabbur added a second just before half time. A second penalty dispatched by Skov put the result beyond doubt.
In our regular feature, we take a closer look at what can be taken away from Friday’s match.
1. Is this the end of the road for Frank Kramer?
Sporting director Rouwen Schröder has a tough decision to make over the weekend as to the future of trainer Frank Kramer. Without coming out and saying as much, tonight’s clash with Hoffenheim was a must-win for Kramer if he was to keep his job.
The 3-0 defeat at the Veltins Arena has just raised the odds that Schalke will pull the plug and make Kramer the fifth coaching casualty of the season.
When the quality of the opposition is higher (as has been the case so often this season) strategy and approach can compensate. Kramer however has been stubborn and stuck to his approach. This approach has brought a deep-lying defence, a low shot count and low possession stats, and hasn’t gone down well or garnered many points.
It looks like it won’t just be VfB Stuttgart looking for a new coach over the next week.
2. The early Hoffenheim press set the tone
Straight from the kick-off it was clear that Hoffenheim were going to put an under-pressure Schalke side under pressure with a high, energetic press. They won their first corner after just eight second and had forced two within the first minute.
If the home side thought they were going to stamp any kind of early stamp on the game, they were prevented from doing so by the TSG press. It paid off with the penalty earned in the 11th minute, which set them on the way to victory.
3. The Veltins Arena crowd did their bit
From the ‘Steigerlied’ that greeted the players pre-match to the passionate support they gave throughout, the home fans certainly did their bit to push their team on. At 2-0 down going into the second half the Veltins Arena faithful looked to give their team the confidence they were lacking and even at the final whistle the Nordkurve were highly vocal in their support.
4. Robert Skov is one-footed…
But when that one foot is a left foot as potent as the Dane’s then it doesn’t cause too much concern. He dispatched both of his penalties with laser beam accuracy and power and even though keeper Alexander Schwolow went the right way, he was helpless.
Skov did spurn a glorious chance in the first half, but it was on his weaker (should that be non-existent) right foot.
5. Simon Terodde is a 2. Bundesliga striker
The quality of the Schalke squad will come under scrutiny the longer they struggle, and comparisons will be made with the team they were promoted alongside- Werder Bremen. With Niclas Füllkrug leading the scoring charts after nine games, the accusation that Schalke’s Simon Terodde is a 2. Bundesliga striker and no more arises.
Playing for a team at the top end of the second tier is one thing and the goals will flow- 172 in 282 games in fact. In the top tier Bundesliga, Terodde comes up against better defences where he has less space and time and scores considerably less- 12 goals in 69 appearances. His strike rate goes from 0.61 in the second tier to 0.17 in the Bundesliga.
I present to you exhibit A in the case for the prosecution.