VfL Wolfsburg Vs. Schalke 04 09/11/11 Kamal’s Free German Bundesliga Pick and Preview
The German Bundesliga fixtures for Week 5 end with a struggling VfL Wolfsburg side looking for their first win in three matches hosting a flourishing Schalke 04 at the Volkswagen Arena.
Wolfsburg comes into this match having not picked up a point since the opening match of the season, having scored only 1 goal in their last three matches while conceding 8 goals in that span. The pressure is starting to build on coach Felix Magath and although the board has backed him the team will now sink or swim with the signings he’s made in the transfer market, out the door has gone Brazilian midfielder Diego and defender Simon Simon Kjær and in comes midfielders Thomas Hitzlsperger, Alexander Hleb as well as Brazilian defender Chris. For a team that struggled for large portions of last season and thus getting sucked into the relegation zone these are nervous times, if their recent goals for and goals against record aren’t bad enough there is continued internal conflicts with many players on the team. The latest of these being that forward Patrick Helmes was told to find a new club while the transfer window was still open, out of favor under Magath’s reign last season he just doesn’t seem to be one of the coaches favorites and could find himself rotting on the bench. Even though they are struggling Wolfsburg need some key players to step up and find a good patch of form, the likes of goalkeeper Diego Benaglio needs to find his old form that made him in such demand a few years ago while defender and captain Marcel Schäfer and forward Mario Mandžukić need to produce like they did last season.
As for Schalke they are on fire right now, after losing their season opener 3-0 to VfB Stuttgart they have won their last three matches. These include emphatic victories over FC Cologne and Mainz 05 by 5-1 and 4-2 score lines respectively, the in form player for them so far has been forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar who has 4 goals this season including a hat trick in the aforementioned game against FC Cologne. Even though they have an upcoming UEFA Europa League match against Romanian side Steaua Bucuresti coach Ralf Rangnick may feel this is a good opportunity to create some distance in the league table, they are currently in a three way tie for 1 st place with Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen, with the former having UEFA Champions League match to worry about while the later has a favorable league match against Hamburger SV. The key players along with the aforementioned Klaas-Jan Huntelaar are fellow forward partner Raúl as well as midfielders Lewis Holtby, Jefferson Farfan and defender and captain Benedikt Höwedes. The midfield is the strength of the team and in my opinion at least they have the best unit in Germany, however the role of Benedikt Höwedes at the back is crucial and his relationship between midfielder become central defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos will make or break the team.
I just don’t see how I can go against Schalke in this one even if they are away from home and have one eye on a European fixture, they are firing on all cylinders while Wolfsburg is just a mess and have to work in a whole new crop of new players.