Schalke scouting report: Tough to beat under Wagner
New Schalke coach David Wagner has brought stability and consistency back to the ranks this season.
FC Schalke 04 have well and truly got themselves back on track since David Wagner took over the coaching reins in summer 2019, and as they head into Matchday 15 they find themselves sitting in a UEFA Champions League spot. While their most recent result was a 2-1 defeat in Leverkusen, the Royal Blues had previously gone on a five-match unbeaten run, with the main improvements under Wagner being that they always seem to outscore their opponents and can hold onto a lead until the final whistle.
Wagner is nothing if not flexible, alternating between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-4-2 with a diamond formation, which is how they were set out against Leverkusen. Goalkeeper Alexander Nübel is also the captain, and he has a back four in front of him comprising former Eagle Bastian Oczipka on the left, Weston McKennie and Ozan Kabak in the middle and Jonjoe Kenny – on loan from Everton – on the right. Another one-time Frankfurt player – Omar Mascarell – usually plays in defensive midfield, having put a poor 2018/19 campaign behind him to establish himself under the new boss. Guido Burgstaller and Benito Raman are the two up front, but Wagner likes to change things up on a regular basis, so it is tough to say with any certainty how they will line up against Eintracht.
One to watch: Omar Mascarell
Defensive midfielder Mascarell was born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and cut his teeth on the island with CD Laguna de Tenerife, before playing for Real Madrid’s reserves from 2011 –2014. He did not manage to make the step up to rub shoulders with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and the other Galacticos however, and went out on loan for the 2014/15 season to the English Championship, where he played for Derby County, followed by a year at Sporting Gijon.
By then he was on Eintracht’s radar, and the Eagles picked him up in summer 2016. Two years later, he would go on to win the DFB Cup with the club, but then Madrid exercised their buy-back clause, only to sell him on a day later to Schalke. Former coach Domenico Tedesco did not seem to be keen on him, but under Wagner he has made the number six position his own.