2. Bastian Oczipka
Given the ridiculous amount of defensive injuries, Bastian Oczipka will likely be asked to slide into a centerback role. Matija Nastasic hasn’t been able to get over his niggling injuries this year, Salif Sane and Benjamin Stambouli are out for the foreseeable future and Weston McKennie has some months off as well.
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There’s nowhere else to turn. Oczipka is the guy, and we need him to be the guy. While Schalke now have the capacity to score more goals, counting on them to slot home two or three is never a guarantee, though it’s getting closer to being one.
It’s also less of a guarantee to keep out goals if you only have one reliable centerback, which we definitely have in Ozan Kabak. But Kabak is one guy and Oczipka needs to be the other guy, otherwise we’re asking one guy to stand up to an entire attack.
Thankfully, Oczipka is a veteran. He knows his way around a defense, wherever you put him, and while he is out of position, we should have faith in him. Now we just need to see it happen and everything will be okay with the world.
On to No. 1.