Roberto di Matteo’s men will be hoping to improve on their recent poor form of late, where they have failed to win in the Bundesliga since the 7th of March, a 3-1 victory over Hoffenheim. They host VfB Stuttgart tomorrow afternoon from 2.30pm, who are bottom of the table with 27 points from 30 games played.
With the hosts’ UEFA Champions League qualification hopes all but over now, they have to focus on solidifying a place in next season’s Europa League, with sixth placed Augsburg level on points with them and ready to pounce if they continue their inconsistent run until the end of the 2014-15 campaign.
They’ll be favourites to prevail against Stuttgart, not only because of the visitors’ lowly position in the table but also given their 4-0 thrashing away from home earlier on in the season. Their manager, Roberto di Matteo, had this to say: “We’ve got to exhaust every opportunity, even changing things, to ensure we qualify for the Europa League.”
Stuttgart boss, Huub Stevens, stated: “We’re not going to let ourselves get distracted [by internal matters]. I’m trying to get the lads back on the righ track after the disappointment of [their loss to] Freiburg. That’s what I’m here for. I know it’s going to be tense right down to the final day of the season.”
Schalke: The Royal Blues were put through their paces at a training camp earlier this week, after their disappointing defeat at the hands of Mainz 05 last Friday, thus jeopardising their European ambitions. Julian Draxler, Jefferson Farfan, Joel Matip and Sead Kolasinac were unable to take part in one or more of the training sessions, so di Matteo is believed to want to leave it late before deciding who will feature from the quartet of players.
Stuttgart: Serey Dié is back in contention for a start following a suspension, whilst Adam Hlousek is out with a ban of his own, meaning Gokotu Sakai will fill in at the full-back position, whilst Antonio Rudiger is set to start after having recovered from the flu.
Predicted starting line-ups:
Schalke: Fährmann, Höwedes, Kolasinac, Nastasic, Matip, Aogo, Neudstadter, Farfan, Meyer, Choupo-Moting and Huntelaar.
Stuttgart: Ulreich, Sakai, Niedermaier, Klein, Rüdiger, Harnik, Kostic, Gentner, Dié, Maxim and Ginczek.