Here's Why Schalke Can Deliver a Bundesliga Miracle This Season and Survive

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Fourth time lucky?

Schalke 04 are onto their fourth manager of the season after each of David Wagner, Manual Baum and Huub Stevens failed to get a solitary win out of a team and club who regularly challenge the European places in the Bundesliga.

Schalke have fallen victim to embarrassing results this season, an 8-0 thrashing at the hands of the champions of Europe Bayern Munich forced the end for former Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner. Add this to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby further optimises the Royal Blues turgid first half of the season.

The newly-appointed boss, Christian Gross has not managed in a major European league since being sacked by Stuttgart a decade ago, spending most of the past 10 years in Saudi Arabia. The Swiss 66-year-old also had a short and forgettable 10 months at Tottenham back in 1997 but will be looking to mastermind an ambitious escape for a club that have not been relegated since 1991.

Regardless of Gross’s track record, an impressive 4-0 win in his second game inspired by 19-year-old American Mathew Hoppe might just install the belief that could spell the start of a revitalised Schalke in the coming weeks. Here are four reasons for a potential great escape this season.

Bundesliga Odds

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The Bundesliga Play-Off Lifeline

The league really does not look as bleak as it should for Schalke, especially after registering their first win at the 15th attempt against Hoffenheim.

Schalke find themselves bottom in the Bundesliga after losing to Eintrach Frankfurt, seven points adrift of Armenia Bielefeld who beat Hertha Berlin last weekend. Although it must be highlighted that third from bottom in the Bundesliga go into a play-off with third in the Bundesliga 2, with Hamburg Fortuna Dusseldorf, Holstein Kie,l VfL Bochum and Hamburg all battling it out at the top.

This could become quite the possibility come to the end of the season, and there may be a potential escape route if they can finish a place above their current position.

There is hope somewhere in the form of Hoppe

When analysing Schalke’s team, you have to start with Matthew Hoppe, particularly after his performance at the against Hoffenheim, where the 19-year-old bagged his first goals in the Bundesliga on his fifth appearance.

Hoppe's hattrick which might not be bettered across Europe for a while, such was the confidence and cheek of the finishes. Two dinks over the helpless Oliver Baumann, either side of the youngster calmly taking it around the German keeper topped off a breakthrough performance for another emerging American talent in the Bundesliga.

Sometimes a struggling club needs the introduction of a young player to reignite a season, take the influence of Emile Smith-Rowe at Arsenal for example. And, in the Bundesliga, there is a long tradition of young talent being the difference for clubs in their respective pursuits, such as Jadon Sancho, Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz, to name a few, the past few seasons

Young players can bring a fearless streak that can reinstall confidence in more experienced players and if the Hoffenheim performance is anything to go by, Hoppe might just provide that spark for Schalke and give the Royal Blues the hope to push them through.

Bundesliga Winner Without Bayern Munich

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DORTMUND @ 11/10

Kolasinac returns

With the recent return of Sead Kolasinac on loan to the VELTINS-Arena there may just be an air of optimism for the Schalke faithful to cling onto. Arsenal may not have seen the absolute best of the Bosnian during his three-and-a-half-year stint but the powerful left-back is well thought of at Schalke, particularly after finding a place in the Bundesliga team of the year for his last season back in 2017, impressively pipping Bayern Munich star David Alaba to the award.

If Kolasinac can recapture even a fraction of his former self Schalke will boast one of the best full-backs in the league that will provide a real threat from left-back both in attack and defence. Coincidently, the 4-0 victory was Kolasinac’s first game since his return at the weekend, an impressive and encouraging return for the club that he loves.

The club have conceded an almighty 42 goals already in the Bundesliga after 16 games and bringing on a former face who once pulled up trees for the club, is certainly the way to go and this could end up being their best business in a while.

as per the norm, the experience becomes key

After highlighting the importance of the integration of youth, it is also vital to analyse the experienced players that Gross has at his disposal.

Comparatively to the sides around them, the Royal Blues have a breadth of experienced names that stand out on the teamsheet, and it is time for the likes of Matija Nastasic, Mark Uth and Benjamin Stambouli to step up, having all played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe over the past 10 years.

These players may not be accustomed to battling it out at the bottom end of the table, but what they can bring if Gross can channel a return to form is quality, accompanied by topflight experience and the qualities that go a long way in getting any football team out of trouble.

Ultimately, the Schalke boss has the biggest job of his career on his hands, and possibly his greatest challenge facing the club in it's deep history. But with the combination of youth and experience and the recent arrival of a club hero, they might just have the quality at their disposal to escape what seemed a certain drop prior to their win at the weekend.

By Harry Charlwood

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