Verdict: Wolfsburg win
Best Odds: 20/21
Seeking a Bundesliga boost on Friday night, Wolfsburg will make the trip to the Veltins-Arena when they meet Schalke.
Starting with the hosts, while Schalke might have cruised their way to a Bundesliga return this season, the Blues are enduring yet another top-flight nightmare. Although Thomas Reis’ side might have claimed back-to-back 0-0 stalemates against Borussia Monchengladbach and Koln, the former Bochum boss finds his side picked as a landslide relegation pick in 2023. Opening this weekend’s fixtures sat rock-bottom of the Bundesliga table and already eight points adrift of finding a route out of the drop zone, Schalke are yet to claim a single victory since returning from the World Cup’s winter break. With their extended issues highlighted by a woeful 6-1 drumming at home against RB Leipzig on January 24th, Friday’s hosts have also scored just a single strike in any of their last five top-flight contests. Putting just a single Bundesliga win on the board so far this season, Reis’ downbeat squad know that they face an almighty uphill struggle this year.
Schalke will once again be without long-term absentees Danny Latza, Sebastian Polter and Justin Heekeren on Friday night. Likewise, while Sepp van den Berg might have returned to training earlier in the week, the 21-year-old is not expected to feature here.
However, after missing out against Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend due to an illness, Marcin Kaminski should make his return this weekend.
As for the visitors, while Wolfsburg might have marked their return from the World Cup break enjoying a stellar run of form, Niko Kovac’s side have come crashing back down to earth in a worrying fashion. Last seen getting hit with an action-packed 4-2 defeat at home against defending champions Bayern Munich, the former Monaco boss has now seen his side lose each of their last three domestic matchups across all formats. Likewise, crashing out of this season’s DFP Pokal thanks to a 2-1 loss away at Union Berlin on January 31st, the Greens have the feel of a side seeking a much-needed response here. However, still looking to secure a European return in 2023, Wolfsburg should be boosted by an eye-catching record against Friday’s hosts. In fact, on a run that stems all the way back to January 2019, Kovac’s men are unbeaten in each of their last six domestic meetings against Schalke.
Making his return off the bench in last weekend’s 4-2 defeat against Bayern Munich, 24-year-old Lukas Nmecha could be in line for a full recall. Kovac’s squad will make the trip to Schalke on Friday night with a clean bill of health.
While Jonas Wind might have failed to find the net in each of his last three domestic appearances, the former Copenhagen should lead Wolfsburg’s charge here.
Key Factors to Consider
- Wolfsburg are unbeaten in each of their last six domestic meetings against Schalke across all formats – a run that stems back to January 2019.
- Schalke have managed to record just a single Bundesliga victory from their 19 top-flight matchups this season.
- Likewise, Friday’s hosts have also scored just a single Bundesliga strike in their last six attempts.
- Wolfsburg have lost each of their previous three domestic contests across all formats by an aggregate score of 8-4.
- The Greens have seen each of their five post-World Cup fixtures finish with over 2.5 goals.
Crashing back down to earth after their stellar return from the World Cup break, Wolfsburg should be smelling the chance to find a much-needed boost here. While the Greens might have lost each of their previous three domestic outings, they should be relishing a trip to the Veltins-Arena on Friday night. With Schalke claiming just a single Bundesliga victory so far this season, Reis’ side have also shown some extended issues at both ends of the pitch. With Wolfsburg unbeaten in each of their last six meetings against the leading relegation scrappers, we’re backing an away win here.
Verdict: Wolfsburg win
Best Odds: 20/21
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