OGC Nice vs Schalke 04 Preview: Die Knappen keen to kick start their season with a win against in-form Nice

Markus Weinzierl's side will be looking to put a poor start to their domestic season behind them when they face Nice in their Group I opener.

OGC Nice vs Schalke 04 Preview: Die Knappen keen to kick start their season with a win against in-form Nice
Image credit: VAVEL/Getty Images

Schalke 04 begin their UEFA Europa League Group I campaign away to OGC Nice tonight at the Allianz Riviera, looking to kick start their season after defeat in their opening two Bundesliga games.

This match represents the first meeting between these sides so therefore both sides will be looking to get off a perfect start in a group that contains FC Salzburg and FC Krasnodar.

Contrasting starts to the season from both sides

A new season for the Royal Blues was supposed to bring renewed optimism but they have started the new season in poor form losing both games so far without scoring a goal with the most recent defeat to Bayern Munich at home at the weekend. 

Schalke will look to bounce back from the Bayern defeat at the weekend | Photo: Getty
Schalke will look to bounce back from the Bayern defeat at the weekend | Photo: Getty

Despite their poor start to the season domestically, the thing in Die Knappen's favour ahead of the game is that they haven't lost any of their last six away European games, winning four and drawing two. 

On the other hand, Nice have made a great start to the season in Ligue 1 winning three and drawing one of their opening four league games they have played.

The most recent result was a 3-2 victory against Olympique Marseille at home at the weekend so the whole team will be brimming from confidence ahead of this game.

They are a team that are not to be taken lightly as they managed to finish in fourth place last season, therefore, qualifying directly into the Europa League group stages for the first time in their history.

Team news

Ahead of the game, Lucien Favre has received good news in terms of injuries with defensive duo Gautier Lloris and Maxime Le Marchand returning to fitness and available for selection. Striker Mickael Le Bihan has also recovered from injury ahead of the game.

In the summer, Nice brought in some players that are well known with Mario Balotelli joining on a free. The striker has already made an impact scoring a brace at the weekend. Another face that is familiar to followers of German football and is likely to play a part in the game is Dante who joined the French club from Wolfsburg.

Balotelli celebrates during his two goals against Marseille at the weekend | Photo: Getty
Balotelli celebrates during his two goals against Marseille at the weekend | Photo: Getty

The Royal Blues only have one injury of note heading into the game as newly signed right-back Coke is still out for an unknown length of time with a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Schalke have also made some good signings in the summer with Breel Embolo joining in the summer from FC Basel in a €20m deal while they also signed centre-back Naldo from Wolfsburg. The problem is that they haven't hit their best form yet which the team really needs them to start as soon as possible.

Predicted line-ups

Nice: (3-5-2) Hassen; Baysse, Dante, Sarr; Pereira, Koziello, Cyprien, Seri, Henrique; Balotelli, Plea.

Schalke: (4-2-3-1) Fährmann; Höwedes, Naldo, Nastasic, Baba; Stambouli, Bentaleb; Konoplyanka, Goretzka, Choupo-Moting; Embolo.