FC Schalke 04 suffered a humiliating defeat at the Veltins Arena on Saturday, falling 5-0 to RB Leipzig. Here are five key players who must step up heading into Matchday 24.
Matchday 23’s “Topspiel” in the Bundesliga couldn’t have gone any worse for FC Schalke 04. They showed zero fight and were tactically destroyed by RB Leipzig and Julian Nagelsmann, who would have been forgiven if they started slowly after defeating Tottenham on the road in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Instead, Leipzig struck first at the Veltins Arena after an error in goal from Alexander Nübel. Leipzig ran rampant thereafter, with Christopher Nkunku assisting four times against a hapless, disorganized Schalke defense, in spite of the best efforts of center backs Matija Nastasic and Ozan Kabak.
Schalke need to bounce back badly next week against rivals FC Köln and former striker Mark Uth. Afterwards, they face Bayern Munich, who beat them 5-0 a few weeks ago, in the DFB Pokal.
So here are five players who must step up for the Royal Blues.
GK Alexander Nübel
Markus Schubert, based on post-shot expected goals, may be the top-performing goalkeeper in the Bundesliga behind Borussia Mönchengladbach superstar Yann Sommer. Since Sommer is widely considered the best keeper in the league, that’s a great spot for Schubert.
But Schubert has been injured, placing Alexander Nübel back between the sticks. While Nübel has become a magnet for criticism after electing to sign on a free transfer with Bayern Munich, his upside his undeniable. And like Schubert, he is already one of the Bundesliga’s better keepers.
That wasn’t apparent against Leipzig. Nübel put Die Knappen in a tough spot immediately by woefully misreading Marcel Sabitzer’s strike from outside the box, as Sabitzer’s shot didn’t even have that much swerve this time. He nearly made another critical error, blatantly dropping the ball in front of his own goal. There were several times when Ozan Kabak had to bail his keeper out.
Nübel, for all the ill-will from some fans, is capable of so much more. He is a great goalkeeper, and he needs to show it, especially against his future club Bayern on Mar. 3.