18:00 (CEST), Sunday 10th September, Veltins Arena (Gelsenkirchen, Germany) BT Sport 2
Schalke will look to reset after the international break as they squandered the chance to go joint top heading into Week 3.
The unfortunate but all too familiar inconsistencies reared their ugly heads as Schalke undid their excellent work to start the season as they crashed back down to earth.
Stuttgart, meanwhile, have looked superb in their return to the Bundesliga. Although they succumbed to defeat in Week 1, they looked the better side for long spells.
Last time out, a single goal was enough to see the Swabians secure their first victory in their return to the top flight.
Last time out
Hannover 1-0 Schalke
As was mentioned in the opening stanza, Schalke completely threw it all last time out as they surrendered the points at the hands of Hannover.
For the first 70 minutes, Schalke looked lost as Hannover’s pressure overawed Domenico Tedesco’s side.
The goal came for Hannover after 67 minutes as Thilo Kehrer’s softly weighted pass was snatched by Marko Bakalorz, who played in the unmarked Jonathas for the only goal of the game.
Schalke showed some urgency but were ultimately disappointing in Hannover.
Stuttgart 1-0 Mainz
Hannes Wolf was looking for his first win as a Bundesliga manager and he secured his first three points on home soil against Mainz.
Stuttgart waited patiently to pounce and in the 55th minute, they reaped their rewards as Holger Badstuber headed home Dennis Aogo’s corner for his first Bundesliga goal in 115 games.
Simon Terodde should’ve made it two to the good from the spot, but his penalty struck the woodwork of Rene Adler’s goal.
Stuttgart kept their nerve and secured their first three points of the season.
Their depth in defence will once again be stretched this season with Benedikt Höwedes leaving Schalke after 16 years of service to join Juventus on loan, whilst Johannes Geis, who was set to be transformed into a centre-back has been sent out on loan to Sevilla.
On the injury front, Schalke are set to welcome back Alessandro Schöpf and potentially Breel Embolo, who could both have a place on the bench. Franco Di Santo is out through injury, with Guido Burgstaller returning to the starting XI.
After an excellent performance last time out you could be excused for thinking Hannes Wolf will name an unchanged side for the clash with Schalke.
Stuttgart were active in the transfer market, bringing the experienced Andreas Beck back to the Bundesliga from Besiktas, whilst Santiago Ascacibar brings midfield depth as he joins from Estudiantes de La Plata.
Beck has a great chance of starting at right back with temporary fullback Benjamin Pavard moving to centre-back. Last week’s hero Holger Badstuber will miss out through injury.
Key Battle: Ralf Fährmann vs Ron-Robert Zieler
Two goalkeepers who will look to be in the frame come the 2018 World Cup will be Schalke’s Ralf Fährmann and Stuttgart’s Ron-Robert Zieler.
Fährmann has been a staple for Schalke since returning to the club as the replacement for Manuel Neuer and now has the honour of being the club’s captain, replacing Benedikt Höwedes.
One of the more underrated keepers in the Bundesliga, Fährmann has deserved an opportunity to be in the Germany set up thanks to his excellent shot-stopping ability. The biggest knock on the Chemnitz native is his lack of ability to command his area.
Zieler himself has been a part of the Germany set-up for the 2014 World Cup. The 28-year-old was earned his recognition during his time with Hannover, playing in sides that gifted plenty of chances to their opponents, subsequently showcasing Zieler’s abilities.
After a year of uncertainty at Leicester, Zieler immediately overtook Mitch Langerak as the number one at Stuttgart.
With the pair behind Marc Andre ter-Stegen, Kevin Trapp and Bernd Leno, can either ‘keeper establish themselves as a chance to be in the squad of 23 come the end of the season?
Work, work, work
It was something that Schalke lacked in an abundance last time out against Hannover.
Schalke were outworked by Hannover who covered 4.5 km more than the Royal Blues and it showed as the hosts displayed desire and a real willingness to go out and secure the three points.
The stats above showcased how much Hannover wanted the victory more, by running more and applying pressure it was Schalke who crumbled in a piling heap.
If Schalke are to beat Stuttgart this weekend, they must show the managers and the fans, who pay their hard-earned money to watch their side, they bleed the club’s colours.
Stuttgart have shown their willingness to get stuck in and so far they have impressed in their return to the Bundesliga. For instance, Hannes Wolf’s side are seventh in tackles won, at 48% overall, winning 59% of their tackles before the break against Mainz.
Stuttgart are fifth in take-ons won at 49% completed and ninth in aerial duels won at 48% completed.
Overall, Stuttgart are in the upper echelon of the Bundesliga for duels. If Stuttgart out-duel Schalke, then they have a great chance of securing the points in Gelsenkirchen.
PREDICTION: Schalke 1-1 Stuttgart
The final game of Week 3 promises much with two of the youngest and brightest managerial minds set to face off. The future of German footballing tactics will very much be on display and the two sides are both looking for their second win of the campaign.
I expect a tight contest with the game eventually opening as the three points will be there for the taking. I can’t see either side being able to break away and steal the points as they share the spoils come full time.
Can Stuttgart take the points back with them or will Schalke atone themselves from last matchdays disaster? Let us know in the comments section below
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