If you were to ask any pundit in Germany as to who would be winning the title outside of Bayern Munich, many would mention the Royal Blues. The off-season acquisitions of that the club had made them one of those teams that were on the tip of people’s toungues throughout the summer. Sports betting sites had them as legitimate contenders as well, but there were certain things that were lacking in this team and they weren’t being exposed until the season began.
Well that seemed to have gone south pretty quick as they have not been able to win their first four matches domestically and in Europe. There are some glaring problems in Felix Magath’s side that will most likely cost them a great deal throughout the season.
What they lost
What they lost goes beyond numbers and statistics. They lost some intangibles that their replacements are not able to replace at least for the short-term. Losing a player like Heiko Westermann was not something that teams would miss with his ability. They lost an emotional leader. They lost their heart and their soul there. They lost a player that assured any coach of playing almost every minute of a season. If there is any proof as to the value of Westermann just look at the simple fact that he moved over to Hamburg and became the captain there. He might have been the player that you saw score often on his own net but he was the player that led.
Short-term it would also be nearly impossible to replace the 20 goals scored by Kevin Kuranyi. Huntelaar and Raúl combined (14) did not score as much as Kuranyi did (20) last season. It wasn’t just his goalscoring, but his touches are what made the difference. Kuranyi’s departure to Dynamo Moscow was a big blow and also did blow some plans up for the Schalke brass. Despite Raúl’s pleas for patience, time is starting to betray them as they start to lose pace with the top teams in the league.
This edition of Schalke seems like a group of a lot of players that do the same thing. There is a need for that one player that will make plays for them offensively.
The one big issue with Schalke is the fact that Raúl needs someone to feed him the ball in the box, especially at this stage of his career. I guess you can say he is missing a Guti-type player that will give him more chances on goal. The only one that could be able to do this at least on a consistent basis is would be Ivan Rakitic. I would not even consider Jermaine Jones, Christoph Moritz, and even Jefferson Farfán the right people he can feed off.
This was the one problem they had and the only one that could somewhat fit this role was Vicente Sánchez and he left. Both of Schalke’s goals in th BUndesliga have been off of set pieces. There have been very few opportunities off the run of play. They do have some hard workers on this team; but there is a need for the team to have a different player to feed
It’s only three matches into the Bundesliga season. They lost to Champions League semifinalist Lyon in their opener, but Gelsenkirchen is slowly boiling and a loss to Borussia Dortmund would be the beginning of the end for Felix Magath.