The zero is – and Schalke 04 is still behind in the relegation battle of the Bundesliga: The bottom of the table continued its goal drought with a 0-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg.
The Royal Blues have not only gone 304 minutes without a goal, they have only scored three goals in nine games under coach Thomas Reis. With twelve points after 20 games – and the third zero number in a row – the gap to the competition threatens to increase further at the weekend.
“We’re just missing the thing up front. That’s bitter, we need the goals,” said Schalke icon Gerald Asamoah DAZN: “We had two goals that were disallowed. But at some point you will be rewarded.”
Goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann expressed similar frustration: “It’s understandable that the disappointment is huge. We deserved the goal. We need three points, that really hurts again.”
The 60,000 fans in the arena cheered twice when first Alex Kral (50th) and later Michael Frey (77th) sank the ball in the net. But the Cologne Videokeller took back the supposed 1-0 in both cases because of offside. On the other side, Maximilian Arnold missed a penalty early (9th) for the disappointing Wolfsburg, who were unable to underline their European Cup ambitions in any way.
“I can only apologize to the team,” said Arnold after the final whistle and took a hard look at VfL’s performance: “Schalke bought our guts, we didn’t find our game at all. We defended carelessly, we have to show another face as soon as possible.”
Schalke – Wolfsburg: Early penalty after video evidence
Reis had set up the midfield more offensively after the 0-0 win at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Recovered playmaker Rodrigo Zalazar returned to the starting XI for the tough winter signing Eder Balanta – for the first time since he suffered a metatarsal fracture on 2 October. Tom Krauß and Kral took on more defensive tasks. There were also substitutions up front: Switzerland’s Michael Frey joined the team for the ailing second division record scorer Simon Terodde.
Wolfsburg coach Niko Kovac switched to a four-man defense after the 4-2 defeat by Bayern Munich and brought Yannick Gerhardt and Jakub Kaminski into the starting line-up.
The game started with excitement. When the ball was long back in midfield, referee Benjamin Brand blew the whistle because video assistant Robert Schröder had reported from the Cologne basement. Schalke defender Moritz Jenz had fouled Patrick Wimmer, Brand caught up the penalty whistle after a short video study. However, Arnold only hit the left post.
Schalke – Wolfsburg: Kral and Frey called back, Casteels saves
Schalke tried to stop Wolfsburg’s build-up play with early pressing, also fought for the ball several times in midfield, but didn’t know what to do with it near the opposing goal – unless Zalazar was involved. The Uruguayan gave the Royal Blues momentum and a move towards goal. After a Zalazar corner, Kral headed Schalke’s first chance to score (30′).
Shortly after the break, the excitement was great again: Kral scored the supposed 1-0, but Schröder conceded the goal for offside. Jenz failed fifteen minutes later because of the excellent reaction of VfL keeper Koen Casteels. Shortly before the end, Frey’s goal was quickly taken back.
Schalke 04 – VfL Wolfsburg: The voices of the game
Thomas Reis (Schalke 04 coach): “The team is alive, they’re trying everything, they’re fighting. Unfortunately, we didn’t reward ourselves for the third time today. We’re still on the right track. I’m still angry about the last situation. We had the chance there, one against one against to walk the goalie. Why not let that go first? It’s a joke.”
Niko Kovac (VfL Wolfsburg coach): “The first half was the worst we’ve played this season. We were sleepy, sluggish, let our guts be bought off. It didn’t go the way we wanted it to. Overall, we had the better chances, but it was deserved it wasn’t.”