Schalke 04 - Hoffenheim Preview: Royal Blues look to end torrid run and keep European dreams alive
Image credit: Kicker

Hoffenheim lead the clubs head to head in this fixture. They’ve won six out of their fourteen clashes with the Royal Blues. Hoffenheim have already won three times at the Veltins but it’s not all doom and gloom for Di Matteo’s men, Schalke have won four times at home.

In the reverse fixture in 2014, Hoffenheim’s 2-1 home win saw the end of Jens Keller’s reign as Schalke Head Coach, which evidently gave Roberto Di Matteo to manage in the Bundesliga.

Hoffenheim go into this game in good spirits, they’re currently unbeaten in four games in all competitions.

Schalke are without a win in three games, drawing one and losing two. They’re looking to change their fortunes around after they came under heavy criticism following their embarrassing 3-0 defeat to the hands of their fierce rivals, Borussia Dortmund.

Another unhappy stat for Di Matteo, in his sides last six games, they’ve just managed four goals. In their last three games, they’ve managed just one goal. Not the best stat to have over your side's head when being in charge for just five months.

Team News:

Youngster Kaan Ayhan will most likely replace the injured Joel Matip at centre-back.

There’s a slight boost among Schalke’s injury woes, Atsuto Uchida returns from injury to start on the right wing.

Great opportunity for Max Meyer will most likely start in central attacking midfield, finally getting his chance to prove a point to his manager, with Kevin-Prince Boateng dropping to the bench following his poor form.

However for Schalke, Jefferson Farfan, Julian Draxler, Ralf Fahrmann, Jan Kirchhoff, Chinedu Obasi and Fabian Giefer all remain out for Schalke.

Tobias Strobl and David Abraham both have a chance of starting at centre-back.

However, Jin-Su Kim remains a doubt following a minor injury which means Jeremy Toljan could start at left-back.

Hoffenheim face a selection dilemma in the striking department as Adám Szalai, Anthony Modeste and Sven Schipplock compete for the spot up front.

Niklas Süle the only certain absentee among the Hoffenheim team.

Referee Bastian Dankert:

Bastian Dankert, aged 34, from Rostock, Germany.

Dankert has been a Bundesliga Referee for three years since joining the Bundesliga referees in 2012. He has been a referee for nearly ten years since refereeing in NOFV-Oberliga Süd in 2006.

He has officiated thirty-one Bundesliga games, on thirty-seven occasions he has cautioned a player and has brandished two second yellow cards and two straight red cards. He has awarded five penalties.

Dankert officiated Schalke’s 1-1 draw at the Allianz Arena, sending off Jerome Boateng early on as well as awarding a penalty.