Tactics and line-up
Manager Andre Breitenreiter trusted the exact same starting XI that began against Werder Bremen in the opening game of the year. There was just one change on the bench, with new signing Alessandro Schöpf coming into the squad for Franco Di Santo.
Max Meyer strikes just before the break
There were difficult conditions in Darmstadt, with strong winds, heavy rain and a pitch that was cutting up very easily. The Royal Blues were enjoying the majority of possession, but the hosts were getting stuck into the challenges and making life difficult for Schalke. It took a set piece to create the first concrete chance of the game, with Johannes Geis’ well-struck free kick rattling the post. Max Meyer wasn’t to be denied by the woodwork shortly before the interval though. The midfielder produced a composed finish from close range after Leroy Sané had done brilliantly to keep the ball in play and pull it back into the danger zone. Darmstadt had no time to respond before the break, although they had only threatened through counterattacking runs down the flank from the pacy Marcel Heller that ultimately petered out.
There were no changes for either side at the interval, but it didn’t take long for a change in the scoreline. Max Meyer returned the favour to Leroy Sané this time, driving at the defence and feeding the ball through to his fellow Germany youngster, who drilled low past Christian Mathenia to make it 2-0. With a comfortable lead behind them, Schalke were able to control the play and continued to look for goal. While the Darmstadt keeper had to intervene on a few more occasions, Ralf Fährmann was practically enjoying an afternoon off. It wasn’t until the final stages that he was tested by SVD striker Sandro Wagner, but the S04 number 1 saved comfortably.
Summary and look ahead
In the end, it’s a deserved three points for the Royal Blues. They took their chances and had more of the game. Darmstadt were unable to break down the compact Schalke defence enough to force any clear-cut chances, so it was a fairly comfortable ride for Breitenreiter’s boys once they took the lead.
Next up are VfL Wolfsburg. The game against the Champions League participants is on Saturday, 6th February from 15:30 CET at the VELTINS-Arena.