2. Showing real fight
Schalke looked listless in their previous Bundesliga encounters, including recent blowout losses to RB Leipzig and 1. FC Köln that cast doubt on their ability to maintain a European qualification place. However, by outplaying Hoffenheim, who are sitting just behind Schalke in the race for Europea League football in 2020-2021, the Royal Blues have quieted those doubts.
Most importantly, they finally showed real fight in front of their home fans. The Veltins Arena was as supportive as ever, and the Schalke players fed off that energy. Todibo was electric, Weston McKennie put in another fantastic shift, Bastian Oczipka was running up and down the flank, and Guido Burgstaller was grinding away in the attack.
One moment stood out above the rest. Schalke were battling it out with Hoffenheim’s defense on the left side of the attack, and Benito Raman finally ended the exchange by winning the throw-in. With the team up 1-0 at the time, Raman screamed to the crowd to fire them up, trying to get them to help push the club for a second goal.
It didn’t happen, but the intent was there from Raman and the attack, unlike in previous Bundesliga encounters. And that meant a lot for the fans to see.
3. Weston McKennie breaks out
Schalke would not have picked up a point in this game if it weren’t for Weston McKennie’s early goal. It was a brilliant solo effort, as McKennie secured the ball with a classy first touch before taking the defense all by himself. McKennie finished off the chance like a striker, tucking the ball calmly into the near post to give the Royal Blues a lead.
It’s been difficult for Die Knappen to find the back of the net lately, so McKennie’s goal meant the world to the team. And although it wasn’t followed up with another goal, McKennie breathed life into Schalke with that solo effort.
McKennie deserves high praise for taking on more responsibility with Omar Mascarell and Suat Serdar injured. He put in another great shift in the midfield, keeping everyone organized and working hard as a defender and ball-carrier. But seeing him take on this chance in the attack was a clear sign that McKennie is ready to make an even more profound impact.