FC Schalke: 5 key players to watch against Werder Bremen

Amine Harit of FC Schalke 04 (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Amine Harit of FC Schalke 04 (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /
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FC Schalke, Ozan Kabak
GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 09: Ozan Kabak of FC Schalke 04 celebrates after scoring his teams second goal during the Bundesliga match between FC Schalke 04 and Fortuna Duesseldorf at Veltins-Arena on November 9, 2019 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

CB Ozan Kabak

Ozan Kabak has scored twice in both of his first two starts for Schalke this season. The Turkish international recently made international appearances over the break and is riding high. For Kabak, the key will be consistency, especially against a Werder side that has quality in attack, even if they struggle to show it on a weekly basis.

When watching Kabak, it’s clear he looks up to Virgil van Dijk, as he’s always looking to play the attackers long with his passes. As his passing gets crisper and his chemistry with those attackers grow, his influence in Schalke’s attack will go beyond headed goals on set pieces.

CB Matija Nastasic

Matija Nastasic has returned from an Achilles’ injury that kept him out of action for a significant period of time. Although he’s back in training, there’s no guarantee he starts on Saturday at Werder. That said, it would be a surprise if he didn’t start alongside Ozan Kabak, especially since it’s better to start Nastasic alongside Kabak instead of forcing Weston McKennie to play at center back. While McKennie can play on defense, starting in midfield is best for the young American standout’s development.

Nastasic is one of the Bundesliga’s better center backs, and it’s quite the luxury for Schalke to have four great central defenders in Nastasic, Kabak, Benjamin Stambouli, and star man Salif Sane. Both Sane and Stambouli will be out until at least 2020, yet the Royal Blues still have one of the best center back duos in the league in Nastasic and Kabak.

All eyes will be on Nastasic, who is the veteran of the two projected starters. He’ll be expected to be the rock at he back, which will allow Kabak to gamble more and use his unique attacking gifts. If Nastasic is close to 100 percent and plays at a high level, he could have an immense performance and keep Bremen’s talented attackers quiet.