SCHALKE 0-0 MAINZ
Schalke fail to produce goals or chances against Mainz
Madrid's Champions League opponents were unable to break down Mainz, offering encouraging signs for Carlo Ancelotti's side.
If Schalke want to get a positive result against Real Madrid next Wednesday, they will have to fight a lot harder than they did on Friday night against Mainz, their final opponents before they meet Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
This drab goalless draw paints a bleak picture for Schalke when you take into account they were at home to a team placed seventh in the Bundesliga.
Jens Keller’s team, currently fourth in the German league, failed to take advantage of an opportunity to momentarily overtake Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund in the table, with both teams playing their respective matches on Saturday.
Although Keller opted to rest Höwedes, who didn’t even make the squad list, the coach fielded an otherwise similar line-up to the one that had pulled off four consecutive victories, a run brought to an end by this disappointing stalemate.
Matip and Santana were the two centre-backs, and Ancelotti’s spies would have taken note of the difficulties the Schalke defence had in dealing with dead balls, struggling with corners owing to the inability of their fullbacks, Hoogland and Kolasinac, to keep hold of their markers. This weakness lead to Mainz centre-back Bell squandering a free header in the 59th minute. It was an error that neither Cristiano, nor Pepe nor Ramos are unlikely to pardon.
However, Schalke have a number of virtues Madrid should be wary of.
For starters, the 60,952 fans inside the Veltins Arena never stopped chanting during the 90 minutes. The team has flair on the wings, with Farfán, who looked very dangerous, and Goretzka, who came close to scoring the winning goal in the 61st minute with a thunderous strike that went just wide. However, the best chance of the game for Schalke fell to Meyer, who was unable to finish.
With the 90 minutes up, Keller had to make do with a 0-0 draw. His players have said nothing about Madrid all week, but the whole club is thinking about Real. The coach himself proved that with his substitutes, taking off the biggest goal threats, Meyer, Goretzka and Huntelaar before the end of play.