FC Schalke 04: After appointing Christian Gross as head coach and falling to a 3:0 defeat against Hertha BSC in his first game in charge, Schalke bounced back against Hoffenheim. A 4:0 victory and Matthew Hoppe’s hat-trick breathed life back into the club’s sails. However, despite holding Frankfurt at 1:1 for long periods, a 3:1 reverse meant they fell back to the bottom of the table.
1. FC Köln: After defeat to Augsburg and the loss to Freiburg, FC retained the defensive stability that Markus Gisdol was after against Hertha BSC. A dogged, hard-working performance helped to secure a share of the spoils in an even 0:0 draw. The next step, as acknowledged by the FC head coach himself, is to start finding the back of the net.
Christian Gross: “I don't think that both sides will be on the attack right from the very start. Calculated risk is the order of the day. The focus will be on the defensive side of matters. We're trying to build on the performance from the home game against Hoffenheim.”
Markus Gisdol: “It is the last game of the first half of the season and, of course, it is an important match. We know the immense importance of this meeting for our opponent, but we also see how vital this match can be. We will need a really good and aggressive performance.”
FC Schalke 04: Salif Sané, Nassim Boujellab and Alessandro Schöpf are all doubtful for the clash. Omar Mascarell could return to the starting line-up after having been on the bench against Frankfurt. Otherwise, Christian Gross could name an unchanged side from that which started on Sunday."
1. FC Köln: FC have no fresh injury worries following the game against Hertha BSC. Aside from the long-term absences of Sebastian Andersson and Florian Kainz, Markus Gisdol has a full squad to choose from.
Not many people can keep pace with Robert Lewandowski, but Matthew Hoppe has been able to do just that. The American forward, who burst onto the scene with a hat-trick against Hoffenheim, followed that up with a well-taken effort against Frankfurt. His four goals have given Schalke hope that they have found a source of goals. Hoppe will be keen to carry on his good form this month.
FC have enjoyed the better of recent meetings against Schalke. The Royal Blues have won both of the last two Pokal meetings but it is the league tussles where FC have had the upper hand. Just one defeat in Gelsenkirchen over the last five seasons, which remains the solitary league loss that FC have suffered in the last 10 Bundesliga meetings between the teams.
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