The S04 year: January, February and March

The Benidorm training camp, new arrivals, an outstanding comeback in the Europa League and a club record turnover. In the first part of our end-of-year review, looks back on the most significant events of January, February and March.

January: three new faces

The new year started with the team’s departure to the winter training camp in Benidorm, where the Royal Blues started their preparations for the second half of the 2016/17 season. A trio of attackers did not travel with the rest of the squad, as Breel Embolo, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Franco Di Santo were absent through injury. There was, however, a new face to make up for the missing players, as Austrian Guido Burgstaller transferred from 1. FC Nuremburg. And the new striker made the perfect start to his S04 career, scoring on his debut against FC Ingolstadt – a strike which turned out to be the winner.

Next to Burgstaller, Holger Badstuber (on loan from Bayern) and Daniel Caligiuri (from VfL Wolfsburg) arrived in Gelsenkirchen. There was, however, one farewell, as Junior Caicara was sold to Turkish first-division side Basaksehir FK, while Sidney Sam (SV Darmstadt), Fabian Giefer (Bristol City) and Fabian Reese (Karlsruhe CS) were sent out on loan.

February: Success in the cup competitions

The Royal Blues did not lose a single game in February, but did draw three Bundesliga matches 1-1-1, meaning Markus Weinzierl’s men did not make much progress up the table. The draw against Bayern – who would of course go on to be crowned Champions – was, nevertheless, a decent result.

In both the two cup competitions, things ran smoothly for S04. A 4-1 win against SV Sandhausen saw Schalke through to the quarterfinals of the DFB Cup, while the Royal Blues also made it into the next round of the Europa League. A 3-0 win in the first leg away against PAOK tipped the balance of the tie clearly in S04’s favour, and Weinzierl’s men finished off the job with a 1-1 draw in the VELTINS-ARENA.


March: a Eurofighter in the making

Schalke’s March was fairly ordinary, with exit from the DFB Pokal coming on the first day of the month – after 29 minutes in Munich, Bayern were already 3-0 up. In the Bundesliga, however, important victories were earned against Mainz and Augsburg, although a defeat to Gladbach was suffered.

The league meeting with the Fohlenelf was the one of three in just a few days, as the two teams were drawn against each other in the Europa League. The first leg at home ended 1-1, and S04 seemed all but out of the competition at half time in the second leg, trailing by 2 goals. However, with a little help from the away-goals rule, the Royal Blues sensationally pulled it out the bag to claim a 2-2 draw and book their place in the next round.

Off the pitch, there were also positive headlines surrounding the club, as board member Peter Peters reported a club record turnover of 265.1 million euros.

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