FC Schalke 04 attacking midfielder Amine Harit has taken a backseat role due to the formation change, but don’t overlook his ability to make game-changing plays off the bench.
It has been a tumultuous Rückrunde thus far for FC Schalke 04, who started the second half of the season in dream-like fashion, defeating fellow at-the-time title contenders Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 behind a sensational debut from loan signing Michael Gregoritsch.
Since then, Schalke have been dealt blow after blow. They’ve suffered 5-0 blowout losses to top clubs Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, and most recently lost two of their most important players, Ozan Kabak and Omar Mascarell, to potentially season-ending injuries.
The injuries have simply caught up to the Royal Blues, who are no longer Champions League contenders but are now hoping to maintain a grip on Europea League football next season. Since Schalke have stumbled since their incredible Hinrunde, it’s easy to forget that this is all still progress for the Royal Blues.
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Many players in the remaining starting lineup have been affected by the injuries, but nobody has suffered more than Amine Harit.
Schalke’s star player in the Hinrunde, Harit was on his way to being a candidate for the player of the season. He dazzled defenses with his creativity and was untouchable with the ball stuck to his feet.
Harit was the main chance-creator and goal-scorer, bagging winning goals on multiple occasions.
But now, Harit finds himself on the outside-looking-in as a bench player due to the formation change, resulting from the injuries to Mascarell and Serdar in the middle of the park.
Harit and some fans may be frustrated with this most recent development.
Yes, Harit’s had some below-par performances in the Rückrunde, but that’s mostly by his lofty standards.
He’s still been Schalke’s most biting player on the ball and has provided more key passes than the rest of his teammates. Harit has also quietly stood out on set pieces, with some teasing deliveries from corners late in games.
Even though Harit has been relegated to a bench role out of necessity, he can still make a major impact for the Royal Blues. Recall that Harit seems to come to life late in games, whereas it seems like Schalke have suffered late recently. (Look no further than the goal they allowed to TSG Hoffenheim last weekend.)
It’s that clutch factor that makes Harit especially dangerous. While the opposition’s legs are tired, they must contend with one of the Bundesliga’s most electrifying dribblers. Harit is relentless when pressing defenders and is always looking to run at them when he’s on the ball. That desire becomes even more deadly in the final 20 minutes of a match.
Beyond that, Harit can finish a chance and can score out of nothing, weaving moments of magic as the gears in his mind turn faster than the opposing defense can react.
Ahead of this weekend’s Revierderby in Dortmund, let’s use Paco Alcacer as a loose example. We saw how the Borussia Dortmund striker scored goals at a rate with an efficiency we could scarcely contemplate. (Well, at least until Erling Braut Haaland joined Germany’s top flight!)
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Alcacer thrived off tired defenses, and Harit can do the same. Harit may not be the finisher Alcacer is, but he’s a true playmaker and is a much more agile dribbler on the ball. With his motor and now the chip to prove he’s a world-class player despite this “benching”, Harit will be undeniably dangerous.