14:30 BST, Saturday 28th October, Veltins Arena (Gelsenkirchen, Germany)
Schalke currently sit in 5th place in the Bundesliga and will look to close the gap to the top four when they welcome Wolfsburg to Gelsenkirchen. Wolfsburg have drawn their last five games in the Bundesliga and needed a last-minute header from Felix Uduokhai to secure a point at home to Hoffenheim last weekend. Schalke, on the other hand, dominated in their last league triumph as they dismantled Mainz at home.
Last Time Out
Wehen Wiesbaden 1-3 Schalke (DFB Pokal)
Domenico Tedesco was looking for another strong performance as Schalke travelled to take on Wehen Wiesbaden who were coming into the game off the back of a 5-0 win against Würzburger Kickers in the league. It was Schalke who started well and took the lead when Bastian Oczipka’s cross was headed home by Franco Di Santo. Schalke made it two on 36 minutes when Guido Burgstaller finished well past Markus Kolke.
The Royal Blues continued to apply pressure on the 3.Liga side and they made it three early in the second half when Nabil Bentaleb’s cross was turned in by Wiesbaden defender Alf Mintzel. Credit to Wiesbaden who weren’t flustered by the deficit and continued to attack Schalke. 15 minutes before time, they grabbed a consolation goal when David Blacha tapped home from close range.
Wolfsburg 1-0 Hannover (DFB Pokal)
Wolfsburg made the short trip to Hannover for a Lower Saxony derby in the 2nd round of the DFB Pokal. Hannover had the best of the early exchanges coming close through Martin Harnik but his shot failed to hit the target.
Martin Schmidt was searching for his first win as Wolfsburg manager and his side came closest just before halftime when Maximilian Arnold’s shot just missing the target. Wolfsburg continued their impressive play and, just after the break, they finally took the lead with Felix Uduokhai once again popping up to score the winning goal.
With progression into the Round of 16 booked for Schalke, Domenico Tedesco can now focus on the Bundesliga with his side sitting pretty in 5th. Amine Harit and Daniel Caligiuri were rested for the cup tie in Wiesbaden but will return to the starting line-up with Nabil Bentaleb and Coke dropping to the bench. Leon Goretzka has a slight muscle injury but should be fit to play against Wolfsburg.
Martin Schmidt has made a positive impact on this Wolfsburg group but they need to capitalize on their good performances. Mario Gomez made a cameo off the bench in the 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim, he will start with Divock Origi dropping to the bench. Pascal Itter and Landry Dimata will also make way with Yannick Gerhardt and Yunus Malli returning.
Key Battle: Max Meyer (Schalke) vs Daniel Didavi (Wolfsburg)
Max Meyer had been an afterthought in the Schalke ranks under Markus Weinzierl and early on in the tenure of his replacement Domenico Tedesco. Recently though, the new Schalke manager has given Meyer a new lease on football by playing the attacking minded midfielder in a deeper role. The switch to a 3-5-2 has seen Meyer play as the defensive midfielder and it has worked a treat with the 22-year-old completing 91% of his passes in the Bundesliga so far. Look for much of the same from Meyer on Saturday.
Once again, Wolfsburg will be relying on the creative outputs of Daniel Didavi as Die Wölfe search for their first win since Matchday 2. Didavi is one of only four Wolfsburg players to feature in all nine games of this Bundesliga campaign with the 27-year-old creating more chances for his teammates than any other Wolfsburg this season. Look for Wolfsburg’s number 11 to create opportunities for Mario Gomez and co. in Gelsenkirchen.
Point to prove
It would be fair to say that Franco Di Santo has been one of Schalke’s worst signings in the past five years with the Argentine failing to make any impression in Royal Blue. After a terrible previous season in which he failed to score in any competition, the 28-year-old was moved to the periphery of the club.
This season, Di Santo was almost loaned out to Hannover but, with Schalke keeping him, Domenico Tedesco and Christian Heidel clearly have some sort of faith that the Argentine will regain form. Having scored in the cup against Wehen Wiesbaden, can he repeat on Saturday against Wolfsburg?
Away sick Wolves
Wolfsburg have struggled on their journies to Gelsenkirchen and manager Martin Schmidt will be looking to buck the trend. From the last 20 encounters between the two sides at the Veltins Arena, Schalke have won 60% of them scoring 40 goals in the processes.
The last win in Gelsenkirchen for Wolfsburg came in their championship-winning season and, since then, they have lost their last seven encounters. Manager Martin Schmidt also has a poor record in Gelsenkirchen and he is yet to win at the Veltins Arena. History is against Wolfsburg.
Prediction: Schalke 2-0 Wolfsburg
Schalke enter the clash as favourites and history suggests that they should take all three points on Matchday 10. Their opponents Wolfsburg have become a resilient outfit under Martin Schmidt, coming from behind in three of their last four clashes. Wolfsburg shouldn’t be counted out but Schalke at the moment just have the edge as they secure the points at home.
Can Schalke make it two wins in a row or will Wolfsburg break a run of five consecutive draws in the Bundesliga? Let us know in the comments section below
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