Royal Blues’ season ends in defeat

FC Schalke 04 fell to a 2-0 loss at the hands of SpVgg Greuther Fürth in their final game of the 2. Bundesliga season on Sunday (19/5). Schalke end the campaign in 10th place after goals from Branimir Hrgota and Tim Lemperle sealed the win for the hosts. 5,000 S04 fans made the trip to Fürth to cheer their side on in the final game of the season.

Much-changed starting XI, four academy players on the bench

Karel Geraerts made five changes to the side that triumphed 2-1 against FC Hansa Rostock, with Henning Matriciani, Tobias Mohr, Lino Tempelmann, Yusuf Kabadayi and Bryan Lasme all coming into the XI. The Royal Blues were without Darko Churlinov (ill), Marcin Kaminski, Thomas Ouwejan, Thomas Kalas, Assan Ouédraogo, Cedric Brunner (knocks), Derry John Murkin and Ralf Fährmann (rehabilitation), as well as the players with long-term injuries for the clash in Fürth.

Four exciting young talents from Schalke’s youth academy were named on the bench by the Royal Blues’ head coach. Taylan Bulut made the step up from the U19s, while U23 players Malik Talabidi, Jimmy Kaparos and Emmanuel Gyamfi also made the squad. The latter recently signed his first professional contract with the club, which is due to last until 30th June 2028.

Matriciani stays alert, Lasme goes close

The hosts had a slew of chances at the beginning of the game. Branimir Hrgota got a shot off after three minutes, but it was blocked by Steven van der Sloot. Fürth would get another chance to take the lead a minute later, but a vital intervention from Henning Matriciani prevented Dennis Srbeny from getting on the end of Tim Lemperle’s ball.

The Royal Blues’ first chance of the game was much more threatening. Tobias Mohr’s cross into the box found Kenan Karaman and Schalke’s number 19 played a pass towards Bryan Lasme with the outside of his boot. The Frenchman was millimetres away from connecting and giving Schalke a 1-0 lead (11’). Shortly afterwards, Yusuf Kabadayi’s effort took a deflection off Gideon Jung, but the ball flew over the bar (12’).

Urbig denies Kabadayi, Sieb spurns chances for Fürth

Another chance to open the scoring would fall to Kabadayi with 20 minutes on the clock. Schalke’s number 17 was one-on-one with Jonas Urbig and tried to squeeze the ball past the Fürth keeper and into the bottom-left corner. Urbig was up to the task, however, and got a hand to Kabadayi’s effort. The Germany U20 international was in an offside position in the build-up, so the goal would not have counted anyway.

Armindo Sieb had a trio of good opportunities in the final fifteen minutes of the first half. The attacker found himself in a promising position after an incisive pass from Branimir Hrgota played him through on goal, but Ibrahima Cissé raced back and put in a crucial challenge to keep the scores level. Sieb was through on goal again nine minutes later – this time courtesy of Tim Lemperle –, but the outcome was the same, as he blazed his effort over the bar. The 21-year-old would have the best chance to put the hosts ahead in the first minute of added time, however. Once again, only Marius Müller stood between Sieb and his 13th goal of the campaign, but the third time was not the charm for Fürth’s number 30, as his effort rippled the side netting. The scoreline still stood at 0-0 when the referee blew the half-time whistle.

Topp stings Urbig’s gloves, Hrgota puts SGF in front

The home team were quicker out of the blocks at the start of the second 45. Hrgota got a shot off from around 25 yards out, but put too much power on it and watched it sail over the bar (47’). The Royal Blues also looked to play more expansive football and draw first blood. Bryan Lasme found some space in midfield after dancing past his marker and laid the ball off to Yusuf Kabadayi. Kabadayi played it straight back to S04’s number 9, who unfortunately did not connect well enough with his effort (50’). Fürth’s number 40 did not have much trouble denying Lasme, but the same could not be said in the 56th minute. Keke Topp’s venomous strike looked to be heading for the bottom left-corner, but a diving Urbig was able to palm the 20-year-old’s thunderbolt away from danger (56’).

After causing trouble time and again with long balls over the top, the hosts would take the lead in the 67th minute. Tim Lemperle cut inside and pulled the trigger, but his strike was blocked by Steven van der Sloot. Branimir Hrgota charged into the box to smash the loose ball into the back of the net and put his side ahead (67’).

Karaman hits the woodwork before Lemperle puts the game to bed

The Royal Blues refused to go down without a fight, but struggled to create truly threatening opportunities. A Fürth clearance landed at Ron Schallenberg’s feet, but the midfielder blazed over from around 20 yards out (71’). S04 went much closer nine minutes later, as Kenan Karaman met Blendi Idrizi’s cross towards the back post powerfully. The placement on Karaman’s header was slightly off and it ended up crashing against the woodwork (80’).

To rub salt in the wound, Fürth doubled their advantage less than two minutes after Karaman went agonisingly close to levelling things up again. Lukas Petkov took the ball off Jimmy Kaparos and squared the ball to Tim Lemperle, who slotted it home from close range to put the home side 2-0 up.

Kaparos almost made amends for his error as the game neared its conclusion, but Niko Gießelmann’s block neutralised the threat (88’). At the other end of the pitch, Oussama Haddadi (89’) and Julian Green (90+5’) went close to adding to the home side’s tally, with both hitting the post. There was one silver lining for Schalke, as Taylan Bulut came off the bench in the 90th minute to make his debut for the Royal Blues’ senior side.

2. Bundesliga returns in August

The defeat marks the end of a tricky campaign for Schalke, who will be looking to bounce back next season. Before the next campaign gets underway on 2nd August, the Knappen will travel to Mittersill for a training camp from 8th to 14th July.

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