FC Schalke 04 - 2016-17 Bundesliga Season Preview: Can Markus Weinzierl lead the Die Knappen to success?

Ahead of the new 2016/17 Bundesliga season, we take a look at Schalke, in our series of previews and whether they can improve on last season, which they failed to meet their main objective of Champions League qualification

FC Schalke 04 - 2016-17 Bundesliga Season Preview: Can Markus Weinzierl lead the Die Knappen to success?
Image credit: VAVEL

Die Knappen had quite a poor season last year with the high standards that are set at the club. Finishing fifth and failing to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for a club the size of Schalke 04 just isn't good enough.

The club also exited early in the DFB-Pokal to Borussia Mönchengladbach and they were well beaten by FC Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League.

Objectives for the new season

The objectives for the new season are quite simple in the fact that the Royal Blues must do everything they can to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League.

The expectations of the fans are growing and with them being the second-biggest club in Germany by membership, they must start achieving much more than they have been doing recently.


Embolo in action for Schalke during pre-season | Photo: Bundesliga.com
Embolo in action for Schalke during pre-season | Photo: Bundesliga.com

Up until now, two incoming transfers stand out that have got supporters in Gelsenkirchen most excited. Young forward Breel Embolo is the biggest transfer so far for the club, costing £19.1m from FC Basel.

The 19-year-old signed for the Royal Blues despite a number of other clubs being interested in his signature. Embolo netted 10 times in 17 Swiss Super League games last term and also contributed with a further seven assists.

The fans though will have to wait to see the other big transfer in action as Coke, who signed from Sevilla for £3.4m, will miss the first six months of the season due to suffering a knee ligament injury shortly after joining the club.

In terms of outgoings, there is only one place to start with Leroy Sané, who scored eight goals and got six assists last season, left the club to join Manchester City in a £42.5m deal. The German attacker was one of the brightest sparks last season for the Royal Blues but with the money that was on offer for him, it was hard for the club to turn it down especially with the player wanting to leave.

The other headline departures have been Joel Matip, who has joined Liverpool on a free transfer and Roman Neustädter, who left to join Fenerbahce on a free transfer.


Schalke had a very good pre-season with some crucial victories which will only have helped the team to build confidence ahead of the new season. Their overall record in pre-season was five victories and two defeats.

Key victories included a 3-1 win over Fiorentina and a 3-2 victory over Athletic Bilbao in their final game. They also managed to win games against Bologna and Holstein Kiel which will help the team going forward as they were both tough games that the team had to grind out to win the game 2-1.

The one big loss that the team suffered in pre-season was when they were defeated 4-2 by Swiss team Luzern. The other defeat came against Guangzhou Evergrande when they lost 5-4 on penalties.


In term's of Schalke's squad for the new season, it is very strong with the possibilities with some more new players to come in if they are affordable. The arrival of some experienced players such as Naldo will help the defensive side of the game a lot. Naldo is set to partner Benedikt Höwedes in the center of the defence which will add real steel at the back. 

There is also real competition for places within the squad which will only benefit the team as they will push each other on to be the best that they can.

Key players

The key players for the Royal Blues ahead of the new season will be goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann and Embolo for two very different reasons. Fährmann was fantastic for Schalke last season and has proved to be the side's best goalkeeper since they lost Manuel Neuer. Fährmann was called into action loads of different times last season and kept his side in games. As well as his saves, his passing and handling skills are fantastic which makes him the good goalkeeper that he is.

On the other side of the spectrum, new signing Embolo will be incredibly important for the side as he brings the 'x factor' the team that they were missing. Embolo may take a while to settle at his new club but over time he will only improve and at such a young age will only get better and should become a fan's favourite at the club. The Swiss forward has an impressive skillset and has the power to really push the side forward in the upcoming season.

Markus Weinzierl looks to lead Schalke to success | Photo: Getty
Markus Weinzierl looks to lead Schalke to success | Photo: Getty

Weinzierl - The man with the plan

After one season in charge of the club, André Breitenreiter left the club at the end of last season and has been replaced by Markus Weinzierl who was one of the most sought after German managers after having four successful seasons in charge of FC Augsburg.

His successes can not be questioned as he managed four successful survivals including a fifth-place finish in the 2014/15 season which for a club the size of Augsburg is massive.

The first question that Weinzierl will have to solve is whether he can lead the club back into the Champions League at the first time of asking while also getting his side to play attractive attacking football which the fans demand from their side.

The first home game of the new era will be a big one for Weinzierl as he leads the side out against reigning champions Bayern Munich on Matchday 2.

Season predictions

The expectations of a top four finish can be achieved I believe as the new manager and signings make the team stronger than they were before. Schalke are a team that are used to being one of the best teams in Germany and I feel that they are better equipped than most of their competitors to at least finish in fourth position.

In terms of European success, I feel that the Royal Blues can go as far as the last 16 in the Europa League as they have a big enough squad to compete with a number of other teams.