EIt’s probably a good idea to ignore the seriousness of the dark reality at FC Schalke 04 before the game against FC Bayern this Sunday (3:30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky) and immerse yourself in the world of fiction. So before the start of the second half of the season, coach Christian Gross spoke of “a new dramaturgy” and a “new direction plan” that he hoped for this duel and probably for the coming months as well. After all, the most unlikely things, miracles and sensations of all kinds happen in the cinema.
They have provided a helping of sentimental kitsch because storm legend Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will probably play for Schalke for the first time after his return. The 37-year-old Dutchman paused when the bottom of the table beat 1. FC Köln on Wednesday 1: 2 due to calf problems. But now “it looks like he’s making progress,” said Gross on Friday. “I think he’s a good option for the bank.” And then certainly also for a substitute.
FC Schalke supporters who want to see the comeback on the screens need a lot of courage. In the first leg, the Revierklub went down at 8-0. Since 2014, Schalke have also lost all duels in their own stadium with Bayern, they last won against the record champions in 2010. Huntelaar was playing his first season for the Gelsenkirchen team at the side of the legendary Raúl. Manuel Neuer stood in the gate, and the future world star Ivan Rakitic pulled the strings. Rummaging in memories is currently a widespread occupation among Schalke fans. On the one hand, the thoughts of the good old days are comforting, and on the other hand, you may find one or the other reinforcement for the present.
Speculation about other candidates
In addition to Huntelaar, they have already brought back another cult player from better days, Sead Kolasinac, for the project to stay in class. There is speculation about other candidates: Julian Draxler, who only plays a minor role at Paris St-Germain under the new coach Mauricio Pochettino, would certainly be a reinforcement. The clubless Jefferson Farfán, 36, who was most recently under contract with Lokomotiv Moscow and contributed a lot to a surprising championship title there in 2018, is probably no longer suitable for the Bundesliga. But Rafinha should actually be the subject of more serious considerations, at least that is what “Sport-Bild” wants to know.
Schalke recently had to endure some malice for their strategy with the retro stars, which sports director Jochen Schneider has now made the last attempt to rescue the traditional club. Samir Arabi, the sports director of the competitor Arminia Bielefeld, scoffed at the beginning of the week: “Of course we watch what the competition is doing. But we have not yet dealt with putting ex-armies like Bruno Labbadia or Stefan Kuntz in the front again. We can’t announce anything yet, so you have to be patient. “
The returns may be an act of desperation. Convincing players who are not familiar with the Schalke magic of better days to move, however, are difficult to persuade to move to this no longer attractive Bundesliga location. After first impressions, however, the plan works quite well. Kolasinac was captain in the first game and led the team to a 4-0 win against Hoffenheim.
Huntelaar had to pause in the 1: 2 against Cologne, but after his brief half-time speech the team played with a dedication that was unthinkable in the autumn. “Schalke is my club, it gets under your skin. That’ll never go away, “Huntelaar said when he left in 2017. Kolasinac described his return as “an absolute matter of the heart”. And Rafinha, who currently plays for Olympiacos, said a few days ago: “The club is in my heart.”
The returnee’s love for Schalke is real. The question is now whether the positive impulses that Kolasinac, Huntelaar and the new coach Christian Gross give have a chance against the severity that has settled over the whole club in 2020. Whether experiences like the defeat in stoppage time against Cologne on Wednesday will quickly destroy the fragile confidence again. Against FC Bayern, it’s not just about points, but also about somehow letting the delicate offspring of optimism into the next week.