FC Schalke 04 picked up all three points on Matchday 13 when they successfully defended the Veltins Arena against Bundesliga upstarts Union Berlin.
While Union Berlin have been a favorite underdog story in this season’s Bundesliga campaign and have the quality to remain in Germany’s top flight, they couldn’t quite pick up points against FC Schalke 04 on Friday evening.
The Royal Blues’ won 2-1 after a late goal from Suat Serdar, moving them into third place in the league after Bayern Munich faltered to Bayer Leverkusen and SC Freiburg lost to league leaders Borussia Monchengladbach.
Schalke will do their best to push for the top spot this season under David Wagner, and the top three performers from Friday’s game against Union will be key in this unlikely charge to first.
CB Ozan Kabak
For the second straight week, Ozan Kabak made a mainstream German outlet’s Bundesliga Team of the Week, and anyone who has studied the 19-year-old’s game understands why he’s receiving such plaudits.
Kabak was impeccable on Friday, recording five interceptions, per WhoScored.com, to emphasize his ability to read the game in front of him. The former Stuttgart star is wise beyond his years, and he will continue to be praised for the mental side of his game this season.
He even made a goal-saving tackle, which proved to be crucial in the 2-1 win; anything less than three points would have been tough to swallow for David Wagner’s side.
Offensively, Kabak was composed, finishing second on the team in passes completed with another game above 85% passes completed. He isn’t just the future of Schalke; he is very much critical to the Royal Blues’ success in the present.
CAM Amine Harit
It seems like I praise Amine Harit for his effectiveness every week, but he deserves it. In close games, Harit often makes the difference, because he keeps on pushing no matter what. Harit, for example, did a perfect rabona pass to keep a counterattack going. He spun and weaved his way around Union’s defense looking for open passes, hoping for a teammate to make the right run in to the penalty box.
The 22-year-old eventually got his assist, setting up Suat Serdar on the counterattack Ahmed Kutucu started for the winning goal.
Harit drew five fouls in this game. He is nigh impossible to stop with the ball at his feet without fouling, and he set up several dangerous set pieces for Daniel Caligiuri against a frustrated Union defense lacking the quality to stop a player of his caliber.
CM Suat Serdar
This was by far Suat Serdar’s best match since returning from injury. He was consistently good throughout the 90 minutes, offering solid defending to go with his expertly-timed attacking runs from midfield.
Serdar positioned himself perfectly for Amine Harit’s pass and provided an even better finish to send Schalke up 2-1 in the final 15 minutes of the match (including stoppage time).
The 22-year-old German international is a joy to watch with the ball at his feet, as he and Harit have the technical quality to carry the ball into the final third without much trouble. Serdar’s technical quality was certainly on display in the winning goal, too.
WhoScored.com credited Serdar with a pair of tackles and an interception, highlighting his strong work defensively. If he keeps it up, he could join Harit on the Bundesliga’s Team of the Season when it’s all said and done.