2022-23 Report Cards: Schalke 04

Having returned to the Bundesliga at the first time of asking following their relegation in 2021, this wasn’t the way it was supposed to go for Schalke, even though the writing was on the wall from the very start. A squad capable of winning the 2.Bundesliga wasn’t strengthened enough to compete and they were on the back foot from the very start.

Coach Frank Kramer had been sacked by Arminia Bielefeld the previous season after failing to keep them in the Bundesliga, and with first-choice option Thomas Reis not being released by Bochum, Kramer was installed at the Veltins Arena.

Newly promoted sides need a good start, but that didn’t happen for Schalke. Their opening ten matches brought just three draws and when they were dumped out of the DFB Pokal 5-1 at home to Hoffenheim the game was up for Kramer. As fate would have it Thomas Reis was now available after being sacked by Bochum so the club got their man in the end.

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Before the winter break they lost three more, but did finally manage their first win on matchday 14 against Mainz. However, going into break, the Königsblauen were rooted to the bottom of the table with just nine points.

The New Year started with consecutive defeats to Eintracht Frankfurt and Leipzig, but then the shoots of a possible recovery started to sprout. Four successive goalless draws, while not spectacular, did show more defensive rigour and then they beat VfB Stuttgart and Bochum before clinching a point in the Revierderby.

Schalke were a much better side in the Rückrunde (8th best team) but they were always playing catch-up after their shambolic Hinrunde and they just weren’t able to secure the wins needed to extricate themselves from the drop zone. A 5-2 win over Hertha looked promising, but that was more to do with Hertha being awful than Schalke being amazing.

They went into the final weekend having to win away at Leipzig, but that was always going to be a tall order against a form team and their 4-2 loss duly condemned them to the drop. While not as awful as they were the last time they went down in 2021, the club are still miles from where they want to be. In their favour they have a good coach and the support for the team will always be there from a passionate fan base. It’s time to hit the reset button and try again.


An immediate return to the 2.Bundesliga after just one season indicates that there weren’t too many highlights for Schalke this season. Coming back against rivals Dortmund in the 2-2 draw at the Veltins Arena was a high as was the run of three wins in four at the end of April that stirred the belief that survival could be achieved. Beating Hertha 5-2 on matchday 28 was probably their best performance of the season.


Going thirteen matches without a win at the start of the season wasn’t the ideal starting point and the Knappen were on the end of some heavy defeats this season as their defensive weaknesses were exposed. Union Berlin beat them 6-1 at home, while Hoffenheim thrashed them 5-1 in the cup. The 6-1 home loss to Leipzig was a low point, and they also went down 6-0 at the Allianz Arena.

Tale of the Tape

Record: 7-10-17, 31 points (0.91 per game), 17th in Bundesliga

Home Record: 20 points (5-5-7) Away Record: 11 points (2-5-10)

Goals: 35 (1.03 per game), Goals Against: 71 (2.09 per game), Diff: -36

xG: 39.6, xGA: 57.1, Diff: -17.6


They were the lowest scoring team in the league with just 35 scored giving them an average of minimally over one per game. Marius Bülter top scored with eleven with nobody else getting close to double figures. Simon Terodde once again showed that he’s fine as a 2.Bundesliga striker, but not really a Bundesliga level goalgetter with five goals.

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Schalke actually registered the sixth highest number of shots across the league (421), but were fourth from bottom in terms of shots on target. Kenan Karaman (one goal) and Sebastian Polter (two goals) were largely ineffective and the arrival of big man Michael Frey in January brought presence but not goals.

If you don’t score enough and conceded too many, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what the long-term prognosis is going to be.


Schalke had the second worst defensive record in the league with 71 goals conceded (one less than Bochum). Alexander Schwolow began the season as the first-choice keeper before ultimately being replaced by veteran Ralf Fährmann (who was then subsequently injured).  Both Frank Kramer and Thomas Reis went with a traditional back four with Maya Yoshida the main man in the centre. An early injury to loanee Sepp van den Berg robbed them of some quality as did the enforced sale of Malick Thiaw to Milan. Injury and illness limited Pole Marcin Kaminksi to just seven starts.

Henning Matriciani emerged at left-back after Ouwejan’s injury while Cedric Brunner made the right-back slot his own with some consistent performances there. Yoshida’s lack of pace was always going to be exposed in the Bundesliga, but throughout the season it was just too easy to score against Schalke with defensive organisation often going out the window once the first goal went against them. They had the worst difference between post-shot xG (PSxG) and goals conceded with a difference of -11.8. For a team at the bottom they also surprisingly had the fourth fewest tackles within the defensive third.


Tom Krauß and Alex Kral were the key men in midfield and while both had a good season, they were putting out fires rather than starting them. Krauß led the entire Bundesliga for tackles made (112)  jointly with Jonas Hector and led outright for tackles won (68). The creativity of Rodrigo Zalazar was largely underused, while club captain Danny Latza only made eight starts. Dominick Drexler contributed four goals and three assists after being sent-off  in the matchday one defeat to Köln.

Transfer Review

There were plenty of arrivals at the Veltins Arena last summer and a few more in the Winter transfer window, but the club only spent €8.6 million and the quality of the incoming players will be questioned following relegation. The biggest single outlay was that of Thomas Ouwejan from AZ Alkmaar (€2 million following loan expiry) with Rodrigo Zalazar and Sebastian Polter both costing €1.5 million.

The Dutch defender made just ten starts due to injuries, while Zalazar (also a loan made permanent) made 15 starts and was the club’s leading assister with six. Polter arrived from Bochum and managed just two goals in his 19 appearances (five starts). Tobias Mohr was the other player to cost real money arriving from Heidenheim for €1.1 million.

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The majority of the other arrivals were either frees or loans. The most successful was probably Tom Krauß (loan from RB Leipzig) with Cedric Brunner also doing well. Maya Yoshida, Alex Kral, Tim Skarke and Leo Greiml all did okay without excelling. The less said about Florent Mollet the better, while Jordan Larsson, Kenan Karaman and Jere Uronen weren’t overly effective. Keeper Alexander Schwolow lost his place to veteran Ralf Fährmann, while loanee Sepp van den Berg suffered a long-term injury than severely impacted his contribution.

Moritz Jenz did add defensive solidity after arriving in January from Lorient, while forward Michael Frey brought a focal point in attack. All in all though, there was quantity over quality in terms of transfer activity from the club and player unrest emerged at the start of the season when game time was hard to come by for some.

Player of the Season:

Boyhood Schalke fan Tom Krauß arrived on loan from RB Leipzig and was a near ever-present (missed just two matches) and instantly endeared himself to the home support with a fighting attitude. He’s been nominated for Bundesliga Rookie of the Year award and it’s very likely that based on this season, he will be remaining in the top flight despite Schalke’s demotion. The 21-year-old led the entire league for tackles made (112) and tackles won (68).


Kozuki Soichiro was promoted from Schalke II after the winter break and made an instant impression with his direct attacking style and provided a much needed new impetus into the attack. The Japanese youth international scored his maiden Bundesliga goal in just his second start for the Schalke senior team before an ankle injury requiring surgery ended his season prematurely. He has however proved himself more than capable of making the step up and could become a key figure next season.

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Grade: D-

The worst team in the first half of the season, but the eighth best in the second half. The damage however was already done and the recovery under Thomas Reis came too late. Looking back, mistakes were made in recruitment and with bringing in Frank Kramer as coach. Fellow promoted side Werder Bremen showed how it should be done and Schalke will need to learn from their mistakes if they manage to make it out of the 2.Bundesliga next season.

About Mathew Burt 923 Articles
Former writer at Goal.com and JustFootball, I've been doing my thing for Bundesliga Fanatic since 2015. A long-suffering Werder Bremen fan and disciple of the Germanic holy trinity...Bier. Wurst und Fußball

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