Schalke vs Shakhtar by Gustav
Schalke actually looked slightly better in the first leg against Shakhtar, but failed to convert their chances into goals and now will need to take the second leg really serious this time. Overall, it was quite a balanced game, but the German side looked somehow a bit more concrete when having the ball to their feet.
However, on the other side, they made two setbacks in previous Bundesliga matches, since the team firstly suffered 2:1 defeat away to Mainz, but then had a 1:1 draw at home against Stuttgart last weekend. After this point taken, they remained at the sixth position, but now having just a point less than fourth and Champions League placed Leverkusen, still being involved in that battle with real chances. German side should be playing in 4-2-3-1 formation with Huntelaar as their number nine and Sane, Santo and Belhanda as his offensive support. Offensive midfielder Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (21/3) suffered injury last weekend and will sit out this one. Hosts are also missing central defender Benedikt Howedes (12/1) and right back Marco Hoger (4/0) due injuries. Doubtful are Leon Goretzka and Max Meyer.
Shakhtar, on the other side, had some chances in the first leg, but it was simply too little in order to get a better result. The game itself was full of action, with the Ukrainian side mostly using counter attacks in order to threaten their opponents.
Playing in Germany now, they know that the team can't only defend and wair for their chance, since the respond of the players of Schalke will be much stronger now. During the Winter break, they had quite a number of friendly matches so far, playing with different opponents and ending their friendly tour with draws against Randers and Dacia Chinsau, but playing with rotated squads. Shakhtar should be playing in 4-2-3-1 formation with Gladkiy as striker and Taison, Marlos and Kovaleko as offensive midfielders. They will be without injured midfielder Vitaliy Vitsents and suspended central defender Olexandr Kucher, important part of the Ukrainian side. Midfielder Fred is also unavailable.
Shakhtar failed to score on the home ground and now will face much more difficult task. There is no doubt that the players of Schalke will try to be dominant and looking to score soon enough, in a game where they surely remain favorites. Sooner or later, Ukrainian side will have to open up here and make a very interesting and entertaining game to watch. Odds still do have value.