After losing to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the league, Schalke had an immediate shot at cup redemption. They royally blew it. To rub salt in the wound, rivals Dortmund ran riot.
Schalke 0-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
(Stindl ’42, Hazard [pen] ’53)
You know Schalke have had a bad week when local rivals Borussia Dortmund bang in seven goals at home, only for BVB fans to seem at their cheeriest when the Schalke result rolls in.
Schalke’s supporters in Gelsenkirchen didn’t manage the same tone. Just days after their league defeat to the resurgent Borussia Mönchengladbach – overshadowed by Johannes Geis’ leg-breaking tackle on the Foals’ Andre Hahn – the Royal Blues blew their chance for immediate vengeance.
Fans, lauded at first for their signs wishing Hahn a good recovery, seemed to lose their good cheer as the team slumped to defeat. Before long, the well-wishes were replaced with a rather tasteless chorus of “Where is Andre Hahn?”
Hardly a Veltins-Arena high point, but to be fair, the supporters’ frustration surely lay elsewhere. Both Gladbach goals came out of nothing on Wednesday, and Schalke had dominated the first half.
Joel Matip’s slip in possession in his own half (remember Steven Gerrard’s Chelsea blunder?), gifted Lars Stindl a run on the hosts’ goal – just moments before half-time. As if to compound the error, Schalke conceded almost out of thin air eight minutes after the break. One Ibrahima Traore through-ball was all it took to release Stindl again; he won a penalty, which Thorgan Hazard duly dispatched.
The home fans didn’t stay to the end, most likely because Yann Sommer was having such a quiet second half in the Foals’ goal. Apart from some Leroy Sane moments, Andre Breitenreiter’s side lost their impetus after falling behind.
After a fast start to the season, best displayed in Sane’s breakout, Schalke have lost three of their last five – and the Dortmund derby’s looming in just 10 days’ time. The Royal Blues must complete a tricky home tie with Ingolstadt and a Europa League trip to Prague between then and now.
After Dortmund, it’s Bayern Munich making the trip to Gelsenkirchen, followed by Bayer Leverkusen a week later. November’s not the month for Schalke’s form to dip.
Given Schalke’s regular Thursday commitments in the Europa League, there’s a case to be made that a Cup exit’s a blessing in disguise, allowing the side to focus on just two competitions.
The young squad, coming to terms with Julian Draxler’s departure for Wolfsburg, has built the perfect early platform from which to chase Champions League football next season. Sitting third, they lead Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen and Gladbach in the table as it stands.
The test now for youngsters like Sane, Max Meyer, and Leon Goretzka – soon expected to be fully fit after his layoff – is to steady the ship before the big waves roll in. Given the rest of the month’s fixture list, Schalke simply cannot become Ingolstadt’s next shock scalp on Saturday.
Other DFB Pokal second round results, Wednesday, October 28:
Werder Bremen 1-0 FC Cologne
Carl Zeiss Jena 0-2 VfB Stuttgart
Reutlingen 0-4 Eintracht Braunschweig
SV Sandhausen 0-0 FC Heidenheim (Heidenheim won 4-3 in penalty shootout)
Borussia Dortmund 7-1 SC Paderborn
Viktoria Cologne 0-6 Bayer Leverkusen
SC Freiburg 0-3 FC Augsburg