3-0 against PAOK: S04 claim big Europa League win

FC Schalke 04 got one foot into the next round of the UEFA Europa League thanks to an excellent performance and result in their first leg match against PAOK. The visitors took the lead in the first half through Guido Burgstaller, and goals in the final ten minutes from Max Meyer and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar sealed an important result. 

Tactics and Personnel

Markus Weinzierl made two changes to the team that started the 2-0 home win over Hertha BSC on Saturday. Nabil Bentaleb missed out with a stomach bug and was replaced by Max Meyer, and Matija Nastasic was back in for Holger Badstuber.

Burgstaller opens the scoring again

The home fans created an intimidating atmosphere in the Toumba Stadium. In the early stages the Royal Blues struggled to get the ball under control against the home side's high energy and full-blooded approach. Things began to calm down after around 20 minutes, after which Weinzierl's side started to take control. Just short of the half-hour mark, Naldo had a header pushed away by the PAOK goalkeeper, but only into the path of the waiting Burgstaller. Without a second's though, the Austrian swiped the ball into the roof of the net to notch his third since arriving at S04 in January. Once in front, Schalke were certainly in charge, holding the ball well and producing the majority of the chances while being rarely troubled in their own half.

Meyer doubles the lead with a header

The majority of the second half was fairly uneventful. Schalke played with calmness and composure, dominant but cautious to ensure PAOK found no way back into the game. They eventually added a second in the 82nd minute, when Meyer peeled away from his marker in the penalty area to head home from Benedikt Höwedes' delivery from the right wing. In the final few seconds, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar marked his return in the way he does best, reacting quickly to poke the ball home from inside the area and seal an impressive Schalke victory.

Conclusions and Outlook

Despite a slightly uneasy start to proceedings, Schalke performed their task perfectly. PAOK barely had a sniff of a chance, while S04 themselves were sensible in their play and clinical in the final third.

The second leg will be played on Wednesday 22nd February, kicking off at 18:00 CET at the VELTINS-Arena. Before then, though, Schalke have a trip to meet 1. FC Köln on Sunday in the Bundesliga. The match will start at 17:30 CET.