Is Schalke 04 half a year after the near-descent again a top team? With a win against Union Berlin, Royal Blue could top down.Benito Raman speaks of Europe, Amine Harit even from the Champions League. The strong start of the season has aroused desires at Schalke 04. Half a year after the near-descent, those responsible are still slowing down. "We should not start with Europe now," said licensing team boss Sascha Riether.
If the Royal Blues on Friday (20:30 clock) win their home game against the Bundesliga rookie Union Berlin, the issue would be even more present: It beckons a Champions League place – and maybe even the standings for a night. A win with four goals difference would lead the traditional club for the first time since April 2010 back to number one. Schalke vulnerability: Only three striker in the BundesligaDon still the question arises: Is Schalke again a top club? 22 points from the first twelve games and only two defeats speak for it. Give away victories in the home games against the relegation candidates 1 FC Cologne (1: 1) and Fortuna Dusseldorf (3: 3) and only three striker talk against it. "That was a bit naive and self-inflicted," admitted coach David Wagner, "but that's part of our development." In the 2-1 win last Saturday at Werder Bremen Schalke acted as a legitimate European Cup contender. "Very mature" was also Wagner, who in the "SID" interview in October a European Cup entry still "in principle impossible" called, the performance. The players took the official restraint off. "A club like Schalke belongs to Europe," said new signing Raman, who has set himself to solid size after initial difficulties. And midfielder Harit, with six goals, the top scorer, said: "We want to play for the top spots, we want in the Champions League or the Europa League. "If Harit and Co. had played as cleverly against Cologne and Düsseldorf as they did in Bremen, they would have been the league leaders. But so far lacked in the home games against supposedly easy opponents the maturity that distinguishes a top team. Against Union, last 2-0 winner against leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach, offers the next chance to only the third home win. Wagner calls Union as "team of the hour" The Berliners come but not only with the recommendation of their Gladbach coup to Gelsenkirchen. They have already defeated Borussia Dortmund and SC Freiburg – clubs that are like Schalke on a European Cup rank. For Wagner, the Köpenicker "the team of the hour in the Bundesliga and the leaders of the last five games." The successes have made the climber self-confident. "Schalke also have the opportunity to win," said coach Urs Fischer, "but we need an optimal day." For the 56th Bundesliga club the match in Gelsenkirchen is a premiere, for Marvin Friedrich a "homecoming". The 23-year-old defender slept in Schalke bedding as a little boy and calls the club "my old love". For five years, he kicked for royal blue, gave his Bundesliga debut and was even allowed to "sniff the Champions League". Harit and Raman want to go there too. The expected team lineups are: Schalke: Nübel – Kenny, Kabak, Nastasic, Oczipka – Mascarell – Caligiuri, Serdar – Harit – Burgstaller (Matondo), Raman. Coach: WagnerBerlin: Gikiewicz – Friedrich, Schlotterbeck, Subotic – Trimmel, Andrich, Gentner, Lenz – Ingvartsen – Ujah, Andersson. Trainer: Fischer referee: Daniel Schlager (Hügelsheim)