S04 lose narrowly to Norwich City

FC Schalke 04 lost 2-1 to newly-promoted Premier League side Norwich City in their fourth friendly of the pre-season in the Lotter FRIMO stadium.

In comparison to the friendly draw against fourth-tier team SG Wattenscheid 09 five days ago, David Wagner made four changes to his starting XI. Guido Burgstaller successfully completed his dental surgery and made his return. In addition, Omar Mascarell, Jonjoe Kenny and Steven Skrzybski started the game, but Fabian Reese, Marcel Langer, Rabbi Matondo and Ahmed Kutucu all stayed on the bench. The on-loan Ralf Fährmann, however, did not stand in the Norwich goal against the Royal Blues – in fact, he was not even a part of the squad. However, S04 met a well-known attacker with a Schalke past: Teemu Pukki, who wore the Schalke jersey from 2011 to 2013, started up-front for the newly-promoted Premier League team.

In their fourth pre-season match against their first big opponent, Norwich tried to dictate play from the back from the outset, but S04 disturbed the English team’s play early on. In the second minute, Benito Raman managed to steal the ball from the opponent’s defensive line, but before he could whip it in, the English visitors snuffed out the danger. Six minutes later, Amine Harit made a dangerous run but was fouled outside the box. From a good free-kick position, Matija Nastasic aimed and took fire, but his effort went over the bar. As the game progressed, the Royal Blues had more possession, but lacked that clinical edge.

Pukki scores the first goal

The Canaries, on the other hand, made the most of their first big opportunity in the 13th minute: Patrick Roberts fed Teemu Pukki on the right, who stuck the ball past S04 keeper Markus Schubert to make it 1-0. 180 seconds later, the Premier League side nearly had a second. Matija Nastasic lost out to Pukki in a one-on-one situation, but fortunately Markus Schubert came out of the box to prevent a second goal from the Finn. At the other end, Steven Skrzybski tested goalkeeper Tim Krul with a good effort. Another chance saw Levent Mercan have a shot from long-range after good midfield play, but his effort went over the net.

The Royal Blues had another great chance just two minutes later. Guido Burgstaller started the chance, sending Steven Skrzybski, who found Benito Raman. However, his shot at goal was blocked by the English team’s defensive line, and Steven Skrzybski failed to convert the rebound. Shortly before half-time, Bastian Oczipka had another good opportunity for Schalke after a free-kick from the left. His shot, however, passed the long post. Oczipka had another chance just sixty seconds later, but his shot flew past the sidenetting. Norwich thus went into the break with a 1-0 advantage.

Matondo scores after Schalke counterattacks

At the beginning of the second half, David Wagner changed his team in four positions: Guido Burgstaller, Jonjoe Kenny, Benito Raman and Omar Mascarell were replaced by Ahmed Kutucu, Sebastian Rudy, Rabbi Matondo and Sandro Plechaty. Sebastian Rudy was forced straight into action in the 46th minute, defending against Teemu Pukki, who tried to cross in dangerously from the left wing. Just 120 seconds later, a Royal Blue counter was crowned with success, as Amine Harit surged through the middle of the park to find Ahmed Kutucu, whose initial shot bounced off the post, but Rabbi Matondo followed up with the rebound.

Canaries take the lead again

Markus Schubert was called straight into action again just 60 seconds after S04 scored, when Pukki once again created space and shot in the Schalke penalty area. Nine minutes later, Patrick Roberts took advantage of the space in the Schalke sixteen-yard box and squared the ball to Todd Cantwell, whose shot flew the right post. In the 59th minute, the Canaries eventually took the lead again. Pukki did the hard graft on the right-hand side this time, feeding Moritz Leitner who lifted the ball into the Schalke goal to make it 2-1.

David Wagner made three further changes in the 67th minute. Benjamin Stambouli, Amine Harit and Bastian Oczipka left the field, with Jonas Carls, Marcel Langer and Fabian Reese coming on. Three minutes later, Schalke had almost equalised again, when Levent Mercan fired a central free-kick from 19 metres out just over the goal. In the 78th minute, David Wagner made a final change, as Jason Ceka came for Steven Skrzybski. A young Schalke XI were left with a handful of minutes to try and find an equaliser.

Schubert with strong saves in the closing stages

Markus Schubert was tested four more times by Norwich in the last five minutes. The S04 keeper intervened to snuff out a dangerous delivery from the flank, before denying Onel Hernandez in a one-on-one just a minute later. Hernandez then tried to cross the ball into the penalty area in the 89th minute, but Matija Nastasic cleared it at the right time. Philip Heise found space and aimed at the corner of the Schalke goal in the last minute, but Markus Schubert steered the ball over the bar. The Schalke custodian got his hands on a final Norwich corner to keep the scores at 2-1 as the full-time whistle blew.

Real friendly vs. FC Twente

The game against Norwich marked the end of a short training camp in Herzlake. In four days’ time, the Royal Blues can expect a real friendly match in Enschede, when coach David Wagner’s side face newly-promoted FC Twente on Tuesday 23rd. Kick-off at the De Grolsch Veste stadium is at 19:00 CEST.

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