Schalke 04 vs PAOK – Wednesday 17:00GMT/18:00CET Arena auf Schalke Gelsenkirchen.
Schalke’s first leg in this Round of 32 tie was inch perfect. If you could predict how you wanted an away tie of a European fixture to go, this would have been result you wished for. Baring a total collapse by the Royal Blues this fixture is all but over. Guido Burgstaller, the Futbolgrad Network’s player to look out for from last week’s fixture, took all of 27 minutes to register his first Europa League goal. The Austrian forward has been a revelation since his January move from 1.FC Nürnberg.
Markus Weinzierl’s 3-5-2 attacking formation paid dividends in Salonika. Outclassing their Superleague Greece opponents in every part of the field, Schalke were imperious. Max Meyer the stand out performer, the attacking midfielder had one of his best performances this season—capping off his night with an all-important second goal in the latter stages of the fixture. There was even time for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to net his 50th goal in UEFA club competition, the Dutchman making an appearance as a substitute in the 84th minute had the presence of mind and composure to slot home Schalke’s third goal on the 89th minute, assisted by Matija Nastasic.
PAOK showed little ambition in the first leg but they may be driven by a desire to register a Europa League victory on their travels. Whilst an aggregate victory may be out of the question, a second leg triumph may go some way to salvage some pride. Out of the four fixtures PAOK have played on German soil they currently stand at W1 D2 L1. The potential to make that statistic read W2, rather than L2, should provide an impetus to push on for the remaining 90 minutes of this tie.
With a hard-fought draw on Bundesliga Matchday 21, versus highflying 1.FC Köln, Schalke will be keen to keep February as an unbeaten month. Wednesday evening will provide Schalke with an opportunity to knock out their Greek rivals for a second time in four seasons.
Schalke vs PAOK – Player to look out for:
Max Meyer is the player to look out for. The 21-year-old German attacking midfielder had a tremendous first leg and his overall Schalke statistics add weight to his ability. Meyer has played 151 senior games for the Royal Blues, netting 21 times and assisting 22. With the freedom this fixture will allow it should give a platform for the attacking midfielder to show off his dribbling ability. If he operates to the same high level as the first leg keep an eye on his short passing talent, he has all the ingredients to stretch his assist and goal tally in this fixture.
Schalke 04 vs PAOK – Match Stats
- Schalke’s 3-0 success at Stadio Toumba was the 200th UEFA Europa League match played by a German club.
- Schalke’s nine matches against Greek sides have ended W6 D1 L2 (W2 D1 L1 in Germany). They are unbeaten in the last seven of those encounters.
- UEFA Cup winners in 1997, Schalke crashed 3-0 on aggregate to Shakhtar Donetsk at this stage of last season’s competition.
- The journey from PAOK’s home, Salonika, to Gelsenkirchen is just shy of 1,700km.
- PAOK’s coach Vladimir Ivić is in his debut Europa League season whilst Schalke’s Markus Weinzierl progressed to last season’s UEFA Europa League Round of 32 with Augsburg, before being beaten by eventual finalists Liverpool FC.
Prediction: Schalke 04 vs PAOK 3-0
Fährmann, Höwedes, Badstuder, Naldo, Stambouli, Kolasinac, Goretzka, Meyer, Schöf, Huntelaar, Burgstaller
Coach: Markus Weinzierl
Glykos, Varela, Malezas, Crespo, Matos Cruz, Shakhov, Cimirot, Leovac, Biseswar, Wardaat, Camposat
Coach: Vladimir Ivić