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Preview Bundesliga: First game for Keller with Schalke in the championship

Back in action for the Bundesliga after the winter break with the match Schalke-Hannover opening the 18th round.

21:30 SCHALKE - HANNOVER

History: 26W-9D-13L

First Round: HANNOVER-SCHALKE 2-2

Schalke: 2012 ended with the worst way for the “blues”. Staying for 6 games without a win (0W-2D-4L) and going down to the seventh position, the management decided to dismiss the Dutch Huub Stevens and support the fortunes of the team to the coach of Schalke U17, Jens Keller, who is fairly inexperienced, having taken just once in the past a professional team (Stuttgart, October-December 2010). In his debut with Schalke, the team lost in a home game for DFB Pokal from Mainz with 1-2. In overall, they have not won in their last 7 matches in all competitions. In all of them both sides had scored (goal-goal). They count only one win in the championship in their last 8 games (1W-2D-5L).

At least Stevens has done much better work in the Champions League, where Schalke finished first and undefeated (3W-3D-0L) in the group stage, competing Olympiakos, Arsenal and Montpellier. They will face Galatasaray in 8th finals. In the short preparation period during winter break, they defeated Al Sad of Qatar (3-2) and Paderborn (2-1), but lost heavily (0-5) by Bayern. Turmoil was created after this game, with the team leader, Höwedes, being reported to be critical against Keller, though a few days later the player himself denied that something like this had happened. The 5 of the last 6 games against Hannover were over 2.5 goals; in 4 of them both teams had scored. The attacking midfielder Holtby has already signed to join Tottenham in July, while attacking midfielder Rafael from Dynamo Kiev (ex-Hertha Berlin) will play until the summer on loan.

 

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Home record: 5W-2D-2L

Goals: 15-9

Last 5 games: 0W-2D-3L

 

HANNOVER: This year’s course does not resemble in anything the achievements of the two previous seasons. The story so far is quite moderate in the league and probably the obligations in Europe fell heavy in their backs! They stand 11th in the championship with several problems in defense (31, second worst performance) and they appear very weak in away matches. Even in home games they are underachieving (4 wins in 8 games), stopping the unbeaten 22 games run in the Bundesliga at AWD Arena. In the last game before the break, they were eliminated in the DFB Pokal from Dortmund (1-5). The situation is much better abroad, having stayed unbeaten in 10 matches in Europa League (they also played two qualifiers in summer) and qualified relatively easy through the group stage, facing Levante, Twente and Helsingborg. In 8th finals of the Europa League they will face Anzhi. In a friendly match during winter break they were defeated 1-2 by Utrecht. They remain without an away tie after 8 away matches and they count 14 out of 17 over 2.5 goals in the league (24 over 2.5 goals out of 30 games in all competitions this season). The Brazilian midfielder Franco has arrived from Noroeste (1.3 million €), also the defensive midfielder from Duisburg, Andre Hoffman (800 thousand €), while Arsenal’s defender Djourou will play on loan until summer. The striker Ya Konan (15 app./2 goals./1 assist) will be missing due to the African Cup of Nations (Cote d’Ivoire).

 

Away record: 2W-0D-6L

Goals: 12-18

Last 5 games: 2W-0D-3L

 

Prediction: We cannot be sure on how both teams will appear after the break. Schalke however seems to need the win more, something that can be supported from the poor away run of Hannover (Schalke win 1.70 in UniBet). Good alternatives are both teams to score and having over 2.5 goals in the game (1.65 / 1.67 respectively in Bet365).

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