Stable in the back, efficient in the front – this is how coach Domenico Tedesco Schalke 04 led to the runner-up championship last season. But now the system is failing reliably – what has changed?
Scene of the match: Gladbach’s Oscar Wendt won on the left wing, passing the ball into the penalty area to Alassane Pléa, who spun and placed it on Jonas Hofmann. He only hit the post, but the scene in the 72nd minute showed what freedom the Gladbach offensive had between the rows of the Schalker defense. Nothing more can be seen of the royal blue bulwark of the previous season this season.
The result: Schalke is defeated 1:2 in Mönchengladbach. Click here for the match report.
The first half: Three minutes were played when Matthias Ginter headed a corner from Jonas Hofmann into the Schalker goal. In the first half hour the Borussia played above all. But before the break, the guests also had two big chances: Gladbach’s goalkeeper Yann Sommer (33rd minute) parried Salif Sané’s header from close range, Mark Uth missed the chance to score the goal in front of him (41st).
Short premiere: Actually, the position of left-back at Schalke has been assigned to Abdul Rahman Baba. Against Mönchengladbach, however, access Hamza Mendyl was allowed to play from the beginning. He saw the yellow card in the 22nd minute after a hard foul on Thorgan Hazard and only one minute later Nico Elvedi was knocked down. Referee Manuel Gräfe was merciful, coach Domenico Tedesco understood the hint and sent Alessandro Schöpf to the field for the Moroccan in the 25th minute.
The second half: Just five minutes after the restart, Uth scored for Schalke, but was on the sidelines. In the 72nd minute Hofmann only narrowly failed for Borussia, in the 76th Patrick Herrmann took advantage of Wendt’s input to score 2-0. Shortly before the end, substitute Breel Embolo scored a dream goal for Schalke (90.+3), but it was too late.
Breel Embolo Honours
- Swiss Super League: 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16
- U16 Swiss Champion: 2011–12, 2012–13
- FC Basel Young Player of the Year: 2013
Expectable defeat: Were the Schalke players aware of their club’s record in away games in Mönchengladbach? It would explain the sometimes discouraged appearance: Borussia had lost only one of their last 12 matches against Königsblau in front of their home crowd.
Start-up difficulties: What the statistics also reveal is that they are familiar with bad season starts in Gelsenkirchen. The club has already started into a Bundesliga season ten times with two opening defeats. It was only in 2016/2017 that Schalke opened the season with five games lost in a row and ended up in tenth place in the standings.
Hardly recognizable: The guests presented themselves today in their new alternative jerseys. But even in the „traditional“ poison green the team could not find its way back to its old strength.
Where is the bulwark? Schalke’s way to the runner-up championship last season led over the defensive. Compact arrangement, disciplined distance between the defenders – a stronghold that opponents despaired of in droves. There is little to see of it this season. Mönchengladbach was often able to move freely in the attack third. Also with standards Borussia mostly kept the upper hand. Just a few months ago that would have been unthinkable.
Where is the efficiency? Beside the strong defense the offensive serenity was a Schalker strength in the past season. There was little to see of this either. The team came to good opportunities, but left them partially miserable. If something came to the Gladbach goal once, the strong goalkeeper Yann Sommer was always on the spot. There are lots of people now that is very fond of BetSid.
The coach’s conclusion: Tedesco explained the game on Sky television as follows: „The defensive was unstable, the distances were not right. But they had come to conclusions much more than usual. At least the coach doesn’t want to put up with the accusation of winning over a wall tactic“.
Rudy at a loss: Strategist Sebastian Rudy as an addition to the flagship defensive from Gelsenkirchen – the national player’s commitment seemed like the perfect coincidence. However, the defensive alliance is still not working, nor can the new midfield engine set impulses. The 28-year-old had considerably fewer ball actions than his rivals, there were still problems with integration.
Improvement in sight? Possible, but not immediately. Before Freiburg, Mainz and Düsseldorf are supposed to be the opponents, Schalke will first receive FC Bayern next week. So it is high time that Schalke finds its compactness again.