Schalke 04: Benito Raman flaws don’t negate his involvement

Schalke 04, Benito Raman (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Schalke 04, Benito Raman (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

Benito Raman might as well not have played as Schalke were emasculated against Dortmund, but even with his flaws, his value is clear.

David Wagner did something against Borussia Dortmund that he hasn’t done in quite some time—he deployed Benito Raman as the sole Schalke striker, flanked on either side by Amine Harit and Daniel Caligiuri.

It seemed like Wagner was veering away from using Raman in such a capacity, always instead pairing him with Michael Gregoritsch or Guido Burgstaller or slotting Raman out wide, but given a chance to shine as the sole striker, Raman promptly… failed.

Raman only touched the ball 13 times. Five of those touches led to immediate possession loss. He completed only 50% of his passes, took no shots, completed no dribbles, created no chances. Schalke would have probably been better off without him out there.

Schalke has to understand Benito Raman better

The problem wasn’t Raman though, the problem was the way he was being asked to play. Judge his first touch harshly if you must—and to be fair, it was pretty awful—but Raman is not a sole striker, he is not a target man, he is not a mover and a shaker.

What Raman needs is empty space, acres ahead of him, and freedom to roam. He will never get that as a lone striker.

He was getting that with a target man next to him, or out on the wings. He’s far more likely to find that space when someone else is taking all the attention because Raman is not a guy who handles attention well. He has adequate dribbling ability, but he isn’t going to weave through multiple defenders. He is going to beat guys with speed.

We know that. We knew that. This experiment failed. If Wagner wants the best out of Raman, he can’t expect him to play isolated up top. Balls over the top through the middle rarely work anyway because the keeper has a better angle to stop it. So what’s the point of starting Raman front and center at all? It’s just going to leave Raman, the fans, and everyone else involved incredibly frustrated.

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Criticize Raman all you want for his poor performance against Dortmund, but you can only make the most of the situation you’re in and it was a piss-poor situation from about the five-minute mark on. Raman had no chance of getting into this game and if we can’t build a better attacking set-up for him, then we might as well not play him at all.