Schalke will look to give their Bundesliga survival bid a much-needed boost when they travel to Werder Bremen on Saturday at 2:30pm (UK time).
Christian Gross’ men are rooted to the bottom of the table with just seven points from 18 games, leaving them eight points adrift of the relegation playoff spot. Werder, meanwhile, are 13th with 21 points.
How to live stream Werder Bremen vs Schalke online:
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Where to watch Werder Bremen vs Schalke on TV:
- UK: N/A
- US: ESPN+
Scoreline prediction: Werder Bremen 2-2 Schalke
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Werder Bremen vs Schalke build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Although inconsistent and often frustrating to watch, Werder find themselves in a much more comfortable position than last season, sitting six and 11 points clear of the relegation playoff and automatic relegation places, respectively.
Florian Kohfeldt’s men bounced back from a 1-0 defeat to Gladbach with a resounding 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin last time out, leaving them on a run of just one defeat in their last four Bundesliga outings.
Down south in Gelsenkirchen, the picture couldn’t be any bleaker. Seven-time German champions Schalke currently find themselves rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga table with just seven points.
The Royal Blues have been unable to build upon their morale-boosting 4-0 win over Hoffenheim at the start of January, losing to Eintracht Frankfurt (3-1), FC Koln (2-1) and Bayern Munich (4-0) since then.
- Werder Bremen (vs Hertha Berlin): Pavlenka; Veljkovic, Toprak, Friedl; Gebre Selassie, Bittencourt, Eggestein, Mbom, Agu; Schmid, Selke*.
- Schalke (vs Bayern Munich): Fahrmann; Becker, Kabak, Nastasic, Oczipka; Stambouli, Serdar; Raman, Uth, Harit; Hoppe.
Patrick Erras and Niclas Fullkrug remain sidelined with respective hip and ankle injuries, while Davie Selke came off injured against Hertha last time out and may not return until late February.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar is still battling the calf problem which kept him out of the squad against Bayern last week while Kilian Ludewig needs a foot operation and will be out for the foreseeable future. Salif Sane is close to a return from his knee problem, but the likes of Gonçalo Paciência and Sead Kolasinac are still out.
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Sargent vs Hoppe: USMNT’s biggest debate to be settled?
While both sides have their collective goals, Saturday’s match will give us all chance to take a closer look at one of the biggest debates surrounding the US Men’s National Team right now: Josh Sargent vs Matthew Hoppe. Just a month ago, this wouldn’t have even been a topic of conversation but, such has been Hoppe’s meteoric rise, it is now an inescapable narrative heading into this match.
After scoring just six goals in 36 games for Schalke at youth level, and picking up more yellow cards (2) than goals (0) across his first five senior appearances, the 19-year-old fired his name into the headlines with a sublime hat-trick in Schalke’s 4-0 win over Hoffenheim (their only league win this season) before backing that up with back-to-back strikes against Frankfurt and Koln. Five goals in three games (from just six shots on target) from a teenager not even on the radar at the start of the New Year. Hoppe was unable to find the net against Bayern last time out, but tested the Bavarian backline with his dynamic movement, while he admittedly cut an isolated figure as the German champions got a grip on the match.
“If Matthew continues to score regularly, he will quickly make the leap to the senior team,” USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said recently. “He has to keep up his form and earn a regular starting place in the Bundesliga. Then he will certainly get a chance.”
Hoppe has already surpassed Sargent’s highest-ever Bundesliga goal tally in a single season (4, 2019/20) but, that said, it’s also important to remember just how much of a wider role the 20-year-old plays in the Werder Bremen team.
Sargent is an incredibly intelligent forward who routinely uses his movement to stretch opposition defences and pull them out of shape, whether that be by dropping between the lines to lure out centre-backs, or drifting out wide to cause confusion as to who should actually be marking him. Sargent has created more chances (20) than any other Werder Bremen player in the Bundesliga this season, while he’s further illustrated his overall importance by coming in first for completed take-ons (14) and third for aerial duels won (28). Just as a further reminder of his abilities, Sargent also scored a rocket of a goal to round off Werder’s 4-1 win away at Hertha last time out.
Until now, Sargent — who has five goals in 12 senior international appearances — had mainly faced competition from the likes of Jozy Altidore and Gyasi Zardes, playing in MLS for Toronto FC and Columbus Crew respectively, for a starting berth for the USMNT. Now, there’s a new kid on the block and we can only watch on in anticipation to see which one makes the biggest statement to Berhalter this Saturday.
Bundesliga 2020/21 recent form:
- Werder Bremen: WLWDL
- Schalke: LLLWL
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