FC Schalke 04 will face the Bundesliga’s worst team, SC Paderborn 07, at the Veltins Arena on Saturday afternoon. Here are five players to watch.
The Royal Blues followed up a goalless draw with Hertha Berlin last Friday by defeating Jürgen Klinsmann‘s squad 3-2 in an epic comeback victory in the DFB Pokal Round of 16. Schalke will look to continue their winning ways on Saturday against Paderborn, who enter Matchday 21 as the league’s worst team. They are one point behind 17th-place Fortuna Düsseldorf, though only three points are between them and safety.
Paderborn have a dreadful record with their defense being a root cause of their issues, but as Schalke’s draw with fellow relegation candidates Fortuna a couple of months ago showed, there is no single Bundesliga matchup that can be taken lightly.
Here are five key players to watch for the Royal Blues as they look to get back into a Champions League place in the 2019-2020 Rückrunde after dropping points in their last two games.
LB Juan Miranda
There’s no guarantee the FC Barcelona loanee starts on Matchday 21, but it’s safe to expect Juan Miranda to slot in at left back. Jonjoe Kenny is still out due to an ankle injury, as there’s no guarantee he even plays on Matchday 22 against Mainz. Meanwhile, Daniel Caligiuri suffered a significant injury against Hertha Berlin in the Pokal, ruling out Schalke’s backup right back.
Bastian Oczipka will likely move to the right side of the defense, meaning Miranda will get the start. Miranda didn’t record any playing time until December when emergency center back option Weston McKennie dislocated his shoulder against Eintracht Frankfurt, causing Oczipka to move to center back in a fluid back three.
Miranda hasn’t been anything to write home about in his limited playing time, but he could have a breakout display against Paderborn.