Schalke 04: Just like that, the Europa League is there for the taking

Schalke 04 looked dead in the water against Dortmund, but just one week later they are in a position to get right back where they started.

Schalke 04’s year has been stressful for everyone involved. What began with such hope and optimism quickly gave way to a freefall that saw them not just losing, but getting absolutely battered by all the teams they were supposed to be competing with, as well as teams thought to be “below” them.

It all came to a head when, after the pause, they headed into a Revierderby that was meant to show us something different than what the season had been left with. It was supposed to look more like the early season Schalke, not the recent.

It didn’t, and Die Knappen plummeted out of the Europa League spot that they had been clinging too after building up such a cushion early on in the season. All the way down to eighth place, with Wolfsburg and Freiburg leapfrogging the Royal Blues.

Schalke’s Europa League hopes are within reach… again

Now, just a week later, that has all undone itself. With Wolfsburg losing to Dortmund (thanks guys!) and Freiburg losing to Werder Bremen, Die Knappen can now go right back up into sixth place with a win at home to Augsburg.

Augsburg, who is one of the few teams currently in worse form than Schalke.

Some would argue that the Royal Blues are better off without the Europa League. They clearly don’t have the resources to maintain consistency in the Bundesliga, let alone in a European competition as well, but regardless, the bonuses of qualifying for the Europa League would be massive, not just financially, but in terms of confidence. And in terms of attracting whatever transfers we hope to attract this coming transfer window.

All year long it felt like a given that David Wagner would guide his guys into a European Cup place and now it’s looking more like a fight to the finish, but in some ways, that will give us a better chance of seeing just what this club is capable of. That sixth place is still wide open with so many teams vying for it and not one of them looking confident enough to take it.

With the door wide open, it’s Schalke’s turn to flip this all around and prove that they are good enough. But it only starts against Augsburg. They still have a long way to finish it after that.