Schalke: 5 key players to watch against Hoffenheim

Schalke 04, Matija Nastasic (Photo by Max Maiwald/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Schalke 04, Matija Nastasic (Photo by Max Maiwald/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /
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Schalke ST Guido Burgstaller
Guido Burgstaller of FC Schalke 04 (Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images) /

FC Schalke 04 will face off against TSG Hoffenheim at the Veltins Arena on Saturday afternoon in a battle between European football contenders in the Bundesliga.

After losing to 1. FC Köln on the road last week, FC Schalke 04 cannot view European football as a guarantee heading into Matchday 25 of the Bundesliga. Schalke bounced back somewhat at mid-week in the DFB Pokal by only losing 1-0 to Bayern Munich after previously losing to them 5-0 in late January, but their 3-0 loss to Köln is still ringing alarm bells in the minds of the fans.

While TSG Hoffenheim are coming off an embarrassing loss of their own on Matchday 24 in a 6-0 defeat to Bayern, they are a formidable opponent for the Royal Blues. Hoffenheim sit in eighth place in the Bundesliga table, just two points behind Schalke. So if they were to win at the Veltins Arena, they’d be favored to finish above Die Knappen in the Bundesliga table.

Here are five players on the Royal Blues who must shine this Saturday in order to prevent that scenario from happening.

ST Guido Burgstaller

Guido Burgstaller is getting opportunities again, as he’s favored over the struggling Michael Gregoritsch, who is at risk of being remembered as a woeful loan signing. Whereas Gregoritsch’s work rate can be called into question, Burgstaller’s physicality and passion on the pitch make him a fan favorite. His talent may be called into question, but his effort cannot.

Schalke have struggled to find the back of the net since their 2-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach to start the Rückrunde. Perhaps Burgstaller can change that, especially if he and Benito Raman can develop a potent partnership.