2. A smart tactical setup we wouldn’t mind seeing again
Schalke needed to replace Jonjoe Kenny in the starting lineup due to an illness, marking the first game the Everton loanee was unable to play. Weston McKennie took Kenny’s place in the starting XI by name, though it was Caligiuri who moved into a right wing back role.
When Kenny returns, using this tactical setup wouldn’t be a bad idea. Mascarell seemed to thrive as a faux third center back, starting attacks and communicating well with Ozan Kabak, who also showed his wonderful passing skills with an 87.4% pass completion rate.
Bastian Oczipka was solid, and while Caligiuri could have been better again, he did finish with three key passes to place second on the team behind Amine Harit in that statistic.
It was great for Schalke to find a way to get Weston McKennie on the pitch, too. He and Suat Serdar are excellent box-to-box midfielders, and it would be nice to see them on the pitch. McKennie offers more as an all-around player than Caligiuri at this stage, so this is something for Wagner to consider when selecting his team.
3. Gregoritsch still not on the same wavelength
Michael Gregoritsch nearly had the breakthrough goal when he split the Hertha Berlin center backs and sent a powerful header screaming past the post from an Oczipka cross.
But for the most part, Gregoritsch was below average. The quality was clearly there when watching him on the ball, but he still isn’t making the best moves off the ball for his teammates.
There are times when Amine Harit is barreling down the heart of the defense, looking for a runner to make a through pass. Gregoritsch will make a run, but he’ll do so in a way that he doesn’t give his midfielder an actual passing lane. And thus the midfielder either holds the ball or attempts a nearly impossible pass that is blocked.
On the ball, Gregoritsch holds play too long and isn’t aware of the runs his teammates are making. This will all improve as he becomes familiar with the tendencies and playing styles of his teammates. But this is something to continue to monitor in the coming weeks.