A victory on Sunday would see Schalke virtually clinch Champions League qualification and secure the third place in the standings with two games to go and that is exactly what the Miners will be looking to do. Gladbach still harbour slim hopes of achieving a top 4 finish and a win at Veltins Arena would certainly be a step in the right direction.
Back to home comforts
Schalke boss Jens Keller has had his work cut out for him this season with the majority of his key players spending at least several weeks each on the sidelines. The talented coach would usually have five or six first team players unavailable and with that in mind, he has done a very good job to ensure the Miners remain on course for Champions League qualification. Having missed the first part of the season, star striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar was sorely missed in the opening exchanges, but he has quickly rediscovered his scoring form to help the team return to Champions League positions. At the moment, Schalke have nine first team players on the sidelines, but the team are doing really well to cope with the absentees. The Miners’ five-match unbeaten run did come to an end at Stuttgart, but they now have a match point at home against Borussia M’gladbach. And while their away performance leave a lot to be desired, Schalke have been pretty impressive on home soil, winning last four matches at Veltins Arena, conceding just one goal in the process. And with their season record at home standing at 11-2-2, the Miners have got to be considered favourites to win this match.
Julian Draxler returns from suspension, but Farfan, Hoger, Clemens, Howedes, Aogo, Fuchs, Papadopoulos, Kirchhoff and Uchida remain sidelines.
Tough games lie ahead for Gladbach
Swiss coach Lucien Favre has managed to transform Borussia M’gladbach from relegation strugglers to Champions League hopefuls in just over a year, and die Fohlen have got to be congratulated for another very good season. It appears they won’t be able to mount a serious top 4 challenge, but European qualification should not come into question. Considering that Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund will be vying in DFB Pokal final, seventh-placed team in Bundesliga will also qualify for Europa League, and a top 7 berth appears safe at the moment. Following the great run of results that saw them win four of five league fixtures, die Fohlen seem to have suffered a dip in form, having shared spoils with Stuttgart at home before suffering a 4-2 away defeat to Freiburg. And with games against Schalke, Mainz and Wolfsburg next, Lucien Favre’s charges could find it hard to win any of their remaining fixtures. Borussia will attempt to win at Schalke and keep their Champions League hopes alive, but I cannot see them getting anything from this match.
Granit Xhaka misses out through suspension, whereas Oscar Wendt is out injured. Martin Stranzl returns from injury.
Schalke have been pretty impressive at home of late and they are in a good position to make it five on the bounce at Veltins Arena. Borussia M’gladbach are going through a rough patch at the moment and they look set for another defeat on the road.
Top pick: Home win 2.00 (1/1) @ Unibet
Alternative pick 1: Over 2.5 goals 1.65 (13/20) @ 888sport
Alternative pick 2: Huntelaar to score 2.00 (1/1) @ Betfred