New faces and a new kit against a former Royal Blue
54 days after the last game of the 2017/18 season which ended successfully for the Royal Blues, securing second place in the Bundesliga, Schalke are back in action on Thursday (5/7). The opponents in the first friendly of pre-season is Premier League side Southampton. Kick-off is at 14:05 CEST (20:05 local time) in the Sports Centre Stadium in Kunshan.
The boys are looking forward to the game,” said head coach Domenico Tedesco, who landed in China with his team on Tuesday afternoon (3/7). “We have taken a few days to acclimatise and settle into our accommodation here,” he explained.
In China, the humidity is much higher than in Germany and there is also a time difference of six hours and so it is hard to adapt physically. This acclimatisation process came in the form of a small table tennis tournament to relax and a bike ride. The final training session before the friendly took place in the Kunshan Sports Centre Stadium.
New arrivals could make their debuts
The Royal Blues will don their new away kit – sponsored this season by Umbro – in the game against the Premier League side. Omar Mascarell, Suat Serdar, Steven Skrzybski and Mark Uth could all make their first appearances since joining the club. Salif Sane, the fifth new face, is not with the squad in China. The Senegalese defender is still on holiday after appearing at the World Cup in Russia and will join up with the squad at a later date as agreed with the coaching staff.
The duel with the Saints will also be a chance to say hello to an old friend. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was on loan from Bayern Munich in the 2015/16 season and played 30 competitive matches for Schalke. The Dane has been at Southampton for two years now although last season did not go as well as he would have hoped at St Mary’s. The club from the south coast of England only secured their Premier League status in the penultimate game of the season, having qualified for the Europa League in the previous season.