The Bundesliga returns from its winter break this weekend. At 17:00 on Sunday, Schalke will take on Wolfsburg at the Veltins-Arena. Schalke have so far had a mediocre season, whilst Wolfsburg have really pulled themselves together over the winter months. I foresee goals at both ends.
FC Schalke 04
Another season and yet another disappointment for Schalke. With 17 matches played, they currently sit in 13th place with a goal difference of 20-24. Their manager, Tedesco, who enjoyed a great start at Schalke is now starting to attract criticism. The Gelsenkirchen-based team have been particularly poor away from home with only three wins and five losses out of eight matches played.
Scoring goals hasn't been their problem, it's their tendency to concede
Their average goal per game away from home is currently 1.38 goals scored and 1.63 conceded. Even though they've scored ten goals in their past four home matches, they've still only managed to win two of them.
But if we look at their expected goals, we can see they're underperforming, and we can expect an improvement in spring. What quality they have up front in Embolo and Bentaleb they lack at the back. Now they have also sold their centre-back legend, Naldo, to Monaco. They have a large amount of small injuries to contend with, but hopefully they'll be able to field their first XI on the weekend.
- League Position: 13
Wolfsburg endured a terrible start to the season, but have since clambered up to a formidable fifth spot in the Bundesliga. They have a competent manager in Labbadia and things look set to continue as they were before the winter break. Wolfsburg now have three wins out of their last four away matches; but in three of these matches both teams also managed to score goals. Their last match was a thriller which they won 2-3 against Augsburg.
Die Wölfe have a strong goal difference away from home
These figures are fully in line with their expected goals. They have a number of talented offensive players, especially Weghorst and Ginczek who have scored eleven goals between them. They also have a phenomenal goalkeeper in Casteels. In principle, Wolfsburg are injury-free, and they should be able to field their best starting XI.
- League Position: 5
It's always hard to bet on the Bundesliga after a long winter break. Die Wölfe will head into this game as marginal favourites. But at the same time we all know how strong Die Königsblauen can be these days. What is easier to predict is the goals.
All statistics point to both teams scoring, a common occurrence in most of the games both teams have played recently. When Schalke and Wolfsburg met in the autumn it ended 2-1.
I'm betting on both teams to score at odds of 19/20.