GERMANY – All or nothing is the name of the game as Schalke’s beleaguered manager Domenico Tedesco takes his bedraggled troops into Saturday’s home clash with Mainz.
The Rhine river club was second last season but five straight losses – the club’s worst ever start to a Bundesliga season – has Tedesco’s side rooted to the bottom of the table.
Tuesday’s defeat at Freiburg was the second successive game in which the goal-shy Gelsenkirchen club have been unable to score. Saturday’s opponents Mainz are enjoying the comfort of mid-table security after Wednesday’s barren draw with Wolfsburg took them to eight points, five adrift of leaders Bayern Munich.
Pressure is also on the two other Bundesliga sides yet to register victories. At the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Stuttgart, the hosts will be gunning for their first victory against Bruno Labadia’s unbeaten Werder Bremen whereas Hanover face a difficult trip to Frankfurt.
Robert Kovac’s Red Devils were unusually lethargic in drawing one-all with Bavarian neighbours Augsburg on Tuesday night. Wholesale changes to the six-time defending champions’ line up disrupted their rhythm and resulted in poor finishing.
Front men Sandro Wagner and Serge Gnarby are expected to make way for top scorer Robert Lewandowski and Frank Ribery for Friday’s trip to unpredictable Hertha Berlin.
But by far the most captivating fixture takes place at the Bayer Arena in Leverkusen where Heikko Herrlich’s rejuvenated side face Lucien Favre’s free scoring Borussia Dortmund. Leverkusen have recovered from three straight losses at the start of this campaign to post back to back victories over Mainz and Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Dortmund have meanwhile upped the ante in the race for the title by launching a goals blitz. Lucien Favre’s yellow and reds were irresistible in Wednesday’s 7-0 triumph over Nuremberg; with defenders Hachim Achraf and Manuel Akanji among the goal scorers.
-Hertha Berlin v Bayern Munich @09:30pm
-Nuremberg v Fortuna Düsseldorf @04:30pm
-Hoffenheim v Red Bull Leipzig @04:30pm
-Schalke 04 v Mainz @04:30pm
-VfB Stuttgart v Werder Bremen @04:30pm
-Wolfsburg v Gladbach @04:30pm
-Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Dortmund @07:30pm
-Frankfurt v Hanover @04:30pm
-Augsburg v Freiburg @07:00pm