Ahmed Kutucu scores as S04 win 1-0 against Aris FC

FC Schalke 04 rounded off training camp in Längenfeld with a win against Aris FC. The Royal Blues ran out 1-0 winners against the Greek first-division side, thanks to a second-half strike from Ahmed Kutucu (47’).

Bentaleb features for the first time since his return

Initially, the Royal Blues were meant to end training camp with a double header of friendlies. However, adjustments to the schedule needed to be made after a positive Covid-19 test within the S04 squad. Head coach David Wagner handed out playing time to 18 of his players over the course of the 90-minute match against Aris Saloniki.

Amongst these players was Nabil Bentaleb, who featured for the Royal Blues for the first time since returning from a six-month loan spell at Newcastle United and a longer summer break (the Premier League only ended the season in late July). The Algeria international started the match and featured at the heart of midfield in a 4-4-2, alongside Benjamin Stambouli.

A lack of chances during the first half

Schalke dictated the game during the opening phases of the match, and were able to find their way into their opponent’s final third on several occasions, but failed to get a shot off. Suat Serdar was the first Royal Blue to record a shot on target, but Aris goalkeeper Julian Cuesta was easily able to parry it (13’).

Ralf Fährmann had little to do in the opening quarter of the game, before being called upon to make a save on Daniel Mancini. The striker went one-on-one with Fährmann, who was able to block his shot.

After about 20 minutes, the Greeks, who have ex-Schalke player Angelos Charisteas as sporting director, grew into the game and went close with a Cristian Ganea free-kick. The Romanian’s long-range effort in the 31st minute whistled past the post. Ralf Fährmann also had to be alert just seconds before the break, as he kept out a Lindsay Rose header.

Kutucu scores 65 seconds after coming on

David Wagner introduced three new players for the second half, one of whom was Ahmed Kutucu, who scored after just 65 seconds to make it 1-0. The attacker got past several players before slotting home from 14 metres. Aris had a chance to make the score level after 53 minutes, when Ralf Fährmann’s foot kept out a shot from Giannis Fetfatzidis after a solo run.

Shortly afterwards, the man between the sticks was forced into action again, saving a Daniel Mancini header that was destined for the corner (57’). In between Fährmann’s saves, Matija Nastasic had a chance of his own, but the Serb’s header went over the crossbar.

After a frenetic few minutes, the game settled down at both ends of the pitch. Ahmed Kutucu had another effort from 22 metres, but this time it sailed over the bar (83’). Aris pushed for an equaliser in the latter stages, but German head coach Michael Oenning’s side were unable to find a goal.

Match stats

Schalke: Fährmann – Rudy (76′ Becker), Kabak, Nastasic (67′ Thiaw), Oczipka (76′ Mendyl) – Serdar, Stambouli (61′ Boujellab), Bentaleb (46′ Harit), Bozdogan (46′ Matondo) – Skrzybski (46′ Kutucu), Uth
Aris: Cuesta – Datkovic, Rose (61′ Marmaridis), Sakic, Bagalianis, Ganea (61′ Sengergis) – Gama, Pacheco, Fetfatzidis (75′ Delizisis), Jeggo – Mancini (61′ Lopez)
Goal: 1-0 Kutucu (47′)
Referee: Kostacevic (Austria)
Attendance: 220

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