18:00 (CEST), Sunday 27th August, HDI Arena (Hannover, Germany) BT Sport 1
Both sides secured victories on the opening week of the season, but who will be the one celebrating another victory come the end of 90 minutes? There are plenty of familiar faces from a Schalke standpoint with former Sporting Director Horst Heldt and former manager André Breitenreiter now find themselves in the Hannover dugout.
Hannover have had a busy week, signing striker Jonathos from Rubin Kazan but unfortunately couldn’t get a deal done to bring Jairo Samperio in from Mainz as the deal broke down at the final hurdle. There is a strong chance we will see Jonathos as a substitute. Can he and his new Hannover teammates spring a surprise against a potentially re-surging Schalke side?
Last Time Out
Mainz 0-1 Hannover
Hannover began their return campaign to the Bundesliga away at Mainz and from the outset looked second rate with the hosts all over the northern club. Mainz had chances galore but keeper Philipp Tschauner was there to rescue Hannover as he produced a man of the match performance.
A surprise would come in the second half when Hannover took the lead midway through the second half, Martin Harnik starting the move by playing Matthias Ostrzolek. The Austrian forward was completely untracked as he finished past Rene Adler.
It’s the perfect start for Hannover but they will need to improve against Schalke on Sunday.
Schalke 2-0 RB Leipzig
Schalke faced a tough match-up in the top game of the round as they welcomed RB Leipzig to the Veltins Arena. From the outset Schalke allowed RB Leipzig plenty of the ball but a strong and inspired defensive showing kept the visitors out of Ralf Fährmann’s area.
Schalke would then take the lead as a long ball played Franco Di Santo before the Argentine was fouled by Dayot Upamecano in the area. Nabil Bentaleb converted from the spot to give Schalke the lead at the break.
Schalke fans in a spirited mood would be even more joyous after the break when they extended their advantage. Amine Harit winning possession before splitting the Leipzig defence with an excellent through ball, Yevhen Konoplyanka on the end of the pass and finished well passed Peter Gulacsi to secure all three points for Schalke.
Hannover scraped over the line with all 3 points in Mainz, but Schalke will provide a much tougher opponent in the club’s home opener. On the injury front Edgar Prib is still out and won’t return until mid-February, giving Kenan Karaman a chance to cement his spot in the starting line-up. Salif Sané is back from suspension and has a good chance of starting with Florian Hübner making way.
Manager Domenico Tedesco has plenty of players returning from injury but could be forgiven for having a hard time finding a place in the starting XI for them. Benedikt Höwedes was left on the bench last time out and after a strong defensive performance he will once again be on the pine.
Guido Burgstaller was a late ‘out’ due to a niggle but may make do with a bench spot after a solid performance from Franco Di Santo. Breel Embolo made the bench and could make a cameo in the second half. Unchanged from the win against Leipzig.
Key Battle: Julian Korb vs Yevhen Konoplyanka
Two players with plenty to prove this season go head to head in the final match-up of the weekend. Julian Korb had risen through the ranks at Borussia Mönchengladbach and was a regular feature at right back under Lucien Favre.
However, injury and the signing of Nico Elvedi saw Korb on the way out and now at Hannover he seems to have found the right fit. Korb kept Mainz’s Viktor Fischer under raps last weekend, can he do the same to Schalke’s Yevhen Konoplyanka?
The Ukrainian’s frustrations have been well documented but fortunately under new management we are seeing the player Schalke signed from Sevilla. Konoplyanka has hit the ground running, a brace in the DFB Pokal against Berliner FC Dynamo and an opening week goal versus RB Leipzig has people in Gelsenkirchen believing great things about the Ukrainian winger.
Can Konoplyanka get on top of Korb and help Schalke secure three more points heading into the International break?
An incredible stat to enter the second matchday fixture between Schalke and Hannover is that the two sides have never had a 0-0 draw in the Bundesliga since they first met in the revamped league in 1964. The two sides have met on 56 occasions in all competitions with Schalke winning 31 times to Hannover’s 16. Recently it has been Schalke who have had the success over Hannover winning the last three contests.
Who will take the initiative?
Neither side had plenty of possession last time out yet both came away with the points on the opening matchday. Schalke and Hannover both had 43% possession, but which one will control the game from the outset?
I expect Schalke to do so with Hannover opting to play the Royal Blues on the counter. It will be an interesting strategic showdown between Hannover and Schalke on Sunday.
Prediction: Schalke 1-0 Hannover
A tight contest will be played at the HDI Arena, with both teams vying to take the points heading into the 10 day International break. Hannover would be in dreamland if they could surprise Schalke and I believe they will cause the Royal Blues some trouble.
However, the class and quality of Schalke will eventually be too much for the plucky Northern club. An interesting watch, but Schalke should take this cagey affair.
Can Hannover make it two from two to start the campaign or will it be a royal blue day for Schalke? Let us know in the comments section below
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?