The Wolves take on Schalke for the third time this season on Saturday (kick-off 18:30 CET). The two teams drew 1-1 last October before the Green-Whites slipped to a 1-0 defeat in the DFB Cup quarter-finals last month. Saturday’s clash will be the 42nd league meeting between the clubs, with VfL claiming 11 wins and suffering 15 defeats.
The Wolves and the Royal Blues have shared the spoils on 15 occasions - Hamburg are the only other team to have drawn as many Bundesliga games against the Green-Whites. VfL have also drawn more home games against Schalke than against any other side in Germany’s top flight.
Royal Blues flying high
Schalke travel to the Volkswagen Arena in scintillating form. The Gelsenkirchen club have recorded four consecutive Bundesliga victories for the first time since September 2015 and have collected more points (46) and wins (13) after 26 Matchdays than they managed during the whole of last season (43 points, 11 wins). The Royal Blues have registered ten points from their last four meetings with the Green-Whites, who have only beaten ‘Die Knappen’ once in eight attempts.
The Wolves have also struggled on home soil this season, collecting just 13 points from their 13 games at the Volkswagen Arena so far - their second lowest home points haul at this stage of a Bundesliga campaign. After 26 games of the 2012/13 season, VfL had collected just 11 points in front of their own fans.
In Daniel Caligiuri, Naldo and Sascha Riether, Schalke have three former VfL players in their ranks. Domenico Tedesco’s charges have won widespread acclaim for their free-flowing attacking football this season.
VfL’s lucky charm?
Head coach Bruno Labbadia scored against Schalke on his Bundesliga debut, netting in Hamburg’s 5-2 win over the Royal Blues on 1 August 1987. As a coach, he has won seven of his 12 league meetings with ‘die Königsblauen’ (2D, 3L).
Labbadia’s men will need to keep things tight early on to stand any chance of avoiding defeat against the Ruhr district club, who have scored nine of their last 11 league goals before half-time. The Wolves will also need to be alert at set-pieces - only Bayern (19) have scored more goals from dead-ball situations than Schalke (18) this season.