Schalke before the second half of the season: a bleak farewell tour threatens

Thomas Reis’ assessment before the start of the second half of FC Schalke 04 is as understandable as it is bitter for the traditional club from the Revier. “In the end, you don’t have to look too closely at the table. It is important that you step on the gas now and that you try to show a different face and score points,” said Reis before the game against 1. FC Köln on Sunday (3.30 p.m. / Dazn). A look at the table shows: Schalke is last and would remain so even with a win. Staying up in the Bundesliga is a long way away, would now be at least a medium football miracle.

The hope of using the long winter break for football improvements was not fulfilled, at least in the first two games in 2023. While the performance in the 0: 3 at Eintracht Frankfurt was mostly okay in terms of play, there was nothing wrong with Schalke in the 1: 6 debacle against RB Leipzig on Tuesday. Order, appropriate duel behaviour, goal threat: the Gelsenkircheners showed all of this only in the beginning and when the game was long since decided.

It was clear to those responsible and fans beforehand that Schalke, as a promoted team, does not have a top squad and that the season will be one in a relegation battle. The fact that the team is so inferior in many games and did not counter Leipzig with the resources at their disposal is a bit surprising.

The beacons of hope are Tim Skarke and Moritz Jenz

“If I have the impression that the opponent is better, then maybe I have to be a bit dirtier than the opponent,” said Reis. Unlike last year at VfL Bochum, the 49-year-old has not yet managed to get his team to compensate for individual deficits with tactical discipline, fighting spirit and rousing commitment at Schalke.

In previous years, Schalke would probably have hit the transfer market again in winter in such a situation. Newcomers came this time too, but due to the tense financial situation, they tended to be for little money and as loan players. The hopefuls are now, for example, Tim Skarke or Moritz Jenz – neither of them were regular players at their previous clubs. The fans and Reis also have hopes for Rodrigo Zalazar – one of the great heroes of the last season, who is available again after a long foot injury.

For them, the game has the character of an endgame.

Cologne coach Steffen Baumgart on Schalke’s situation

“I’m glad he’s back because he’s improving the quality,” Reis said of the 23-year-old. The offensive man should help to make the most harmless attack in the Bundesliga more dangerous. After his long break since the beginning of October, it is unlikely that he will be considered for a start against Cologne.

Cologne coach Steffen Baumgart nevertheless expressed his respect for the opponent as usual before the game. With nine points after 17 games, every encounter is now very important for Schalke. He assumes “that the game has endgame character for them and that they will try aggressively and with full power to win the game,” he said.

For many Schalke fans, the game against the in-form FC has a special meaning not only because of the precarious situation of their own club. The rivalry is great. Violent clashes have erupted several times in the past around the encounter. Active Cologne fans maintain close ties with supporters of Schalke’s arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund. In an open letter, the police addressed the fans before the game and called for prudence. (dpa)

Source: Tagesspiegel

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