Schalke were unlucky not to record a victory over very good Hanover side last weekend, but the Miners have got a great opportunity to return to winning ways. Following the 2-0 home defeat to newly promoted Fortuna Dusseldorf, Augsburg clearly don’t have much reason for hope before the trip to Veltins Arena.
Schalke chiefs showing big ambition
Schalke have been on the major uptrend over the last few years and following the fourth-place finish last season, the club chiefs faced a real test in the off-season, with some of their players targeted by top European clubs. To the delight of their fans they passed the test with flying colours, having not only kept hold of Bundesliga top scorer Klaas Jan Huntelaar, but also rejected a big money offer from Zenit for star defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos. The Miners also signed Tranquillo Barnetta and Roman Neustadter completely free of charge, with Raul the only players from the starting line-up who left the club. Considering the quality of the squad and some promising showings in pre-season, nobody was surprised to see Schalke completely outplay very good Hannover side away from home, although they were unfortunate not to record a victory, having conceded the equalizer late into the game. With the home game against arguably the weakest side in the league next on agenda, nobody doubts Schalke are in for a convincing victory.
Boss Huub Stevens will have a courtesy of choosing from a fully fit squad for the second time in a row.
Augsburg somehow survived their first league campaign following the promotion to Bundesliga, but they now need to be wary of the second season syndrome. The team clearly look stronger than last season, with Bance, Petrzela, Moravek, Musona, Klavan, Ottl and Sio all arriving this summer, but there are no guarantees the new players will prove genuine reinforcements for the club. Most of them have come from competitions much weaker than Bundesliga and it could take them quite some time to adapt to the level of football in Germany’s top flight. The opening home defeat to newly promoted Fortuna is a perfect proof of this claim and the match clearly showed Augsburg are still far from the desired form. Given that they are now set to face one of the strongest Bundesliga sides away from home, Augsburg could be in for another disappointing defeat.
Key defender Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker is sidelined through injury, as is back-up midfielder Dawda Bah.
Schalke have started the season strongly, outplaying one of the best home sides in the division on their own ground, and anything but a comfortable victory over Augsburg would be a major surprise. Their opponents were beaten at home by newly promoted Fortuna, so they cannot be expected to fare much better in this match.
Our prediction: Schalke with -1.5 Asian handicap
Odds: 2.13 (9/8)