Schalke’s fall down the Bundesliga table continued as they were beaten 1-0 by Werder Bremen.
After a fairly subdued opening 30 minutes, Leonardo Bittencourt gave Bremen the lead, curling into the top corner from outside the area.
Schalke improved after half-time but were unable to overcome the deficit, falling to a fourth straight defeat while Werder moved closer to safety.
Bundesliga’s worst side continue poor run: Key stats from Schalke 0-1 Werder Bremen…
- Schalke are the only side to have lost all four games since the Bundesliga returned.
- Werder Bremen have won their last four competitive away games against Schalke, their joint-best record since the Bundesliga was founded.
- Bremen have kept three consecutive clean sheets in the Bundesliga for the first time since 2014.
- Schalke’s run of 11 Bundesliga games without a win is their worst since 1996/97 (also 11).
- The home side has won just six of the Bundesliga’s 32 games since the league restarted behind closed doors.
Is the great escape on for Bremen?
Werder Bremen are one of the Bundesliga’s most historic clubs. A founding member, no other club has spent more seasons in the Bundesliga than Werder Bremen’s 55, joined with Hamburg. Of teams currently in the Bundesliga, only Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen have been in the top flight longer than Bremen’s current run of 37. But that run is in doubt.
As the Bundesliga returned from its brief hiatus in May, Werder Bremen were in 17th, four points behind Fortuna Dusseldorf in the relegation play-off spot and eight off safety altogether. The doom around Bremen grew even further after a 4-1 thrashing at home to Leverkusen, but just two weeks on things seem a lot brighter.
— SV Werder Bremen EN (@werderbremen_en) May 30, 2020
Two wins and a draw in their next three games, including a hard-fought stalemate against top-four challengers Borussia Monchengladbach and Saturday’s win over Schalke has seen Bremen close the gap on 15th-placed Mainz to just three points.
Bremen will take further heart from the fact they also have a game in hand on the two teams above them, against Eintracht Frankfurt in midweek. A win against the Eagles, who are 12th, could see Bremen at least move into the relegation play-off spot assuming Fortuna don’t pull off a shock result against Bayern Munich in Saturday evening’s game.
Can Bremen do it?
Next five fixtures
03 June 2020: Werder Bremen vs Eintracht Frankfurt (Bundesliga)
07 June 2020: Werder Bremen vs Wolfsburg (Bundesliga)
13 June 2020: Paderborn vs Werder Bremen (Bundesliga)
16 June 2020: Werder Bremen vs Bayern Munich (Bundesliga)
20 June 2020: Mainz vs Werder Bremen (Bundesliga)
What next for Wagner and Schalke?
When Germany went into its winter break towards the latter part of December, Schalke looked in a good position to secure a European spot.
David Wagner’s men were fifth in the table after a 2-2 draw with Freiburg, but level on points with fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund and just five behind Borussia Monchengladbach in second. That gap was then cut to two points after Schalke beat Gladbach 2-0 as the Bundesliga returned in January, filling hopes of Champions League football back in Gelsenkirchen. But then something went wrong.
Since that win over Gladbach, Schalke have played 11 games including Saturday’s match against Werder Bremen drawing fourand losing seven, while scoring just three goals.
Even before the match had kicked off at the Veltins-Arena, Wagner put himself in the firing line by replacing Markus Schubert with Alexander Nubel in the Schalke goal. Nubel had started the season as Schalke captain but was stripped after agreeing a move to Bayern Munich once his contract is up in the summer. Nubel had been on the bench in the past four games, with Wagner looking to the future, but a recall given Schubert’s poor recent form shows just how desperate the former Huddersfield boss is for a win.
But it didn’t come against Bremen. A disastrous first half, which saw Schalke go 1-0 down, proved to be the undoing despite Wagner’s men being on top after half-time. The Royal Blues now sit 10th, six points behind Wolfsburg in the final Europa League spot and it seems all they’ll be playing for in their final five games is pride.
Final five fixtures
07 June 2020: Union Berlin vs Schalke (Bundesliga)
14 June 2020: Schalke vs Bayer Leverkusen (Bundesliga)
17 June 2020: Eintracht Frankfurt vs Schalke (Bundesliga)
20 June 2020: Schalke vs Wolfsburg (Bundesliga)
27 June 2020: Freiburg vs Schalke (Bundesliga)
Player in focus: Jean-Clair Todibo
When Jean-Clair Todibo move from Toulouse to Barcelona last year, there was a lot of excitement at the prospect of what he would add to their defence for the future. But after struggling to get into the first-team in the first half of the 2019/20 campaign, the 20-year-old was sent on loan to Schalke for the remainder of the season.
However, things haven’t gone to plan for the Frenchman in Gelsenkirchen – with Saturday’s match summing up his spell so far. In eight Bundesliga appearances for Schalke, four being from the start, Todibo is yet to taste victory, a run that he had a role in continuing against Bremen.
Like the rest of his Schalke teammates, Todibo struggled in the first half against Bremen, having his work cut out to protect the goal of Alexander Nubel. But just before halftime, as part of Schalke’s high defence, Todibo was dispossessed far too easily by Davy Klaassen as he tried to waltz through a crowd near the halfway line.
Leonardo Bittencourt, that is special 🎯👏
A massive goal for Werder Bremen's battle to avoid the drop!
Schalke are in free fall… pic.twitter.com/bT4wFpWdAh
— 🇩🇪Ja! Watch the Bundesliga live on BT Sport🇩🇪 (@btsportfootball) May 30, 2020
The tackle allowed Bremen to break with Todibo out of position and eventually ended in Bittencourt’s rocket of a strike. Shortly before, he was booked for a bad tackle on Joshua Sargent, something that may have caused Wagner to react at half-time as Todibo was replaced by Bastian Oczipka as part of a tactical change.
With just five games remaining in the Bundesliga campaign, time is running out for Todibo to impress his parent club.
The rest of the day’s action
- Hertha Berlin 2-0 Augsburg: Hertha Berlin continued their fine run under Bruno Labaddia, moving up to ninth.
- Mainz 0-1 Hoffenheim: Ihias Bebou scored the only goal of the game as Mainz remain in the relegation fight.
- Wolfsburg 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt: Eintracht moved further away from the relegation zone thanks to a late win, courtesy of goals from Andre Silva and Daichi Kamada.