At Schalke, not all players were recently satisfied that they were no longer part of Frank Kramer's first guard. Dissatisfaction could be heard here and there, especially among leaders who have to live their roles on the bench and off the pitch far more than they do on the field.
Not a particularly unusual development. After all, it would probably be more worrying if many a professional would like to make themselves comfortable on the substitutes' bench.
And yet it turns out that the competition that has already arisen in many positions is getting bigger and more serious. In fact, there are many a duel in royal blue in which at least one other regular player will lose out.
While he was still one of the most important players in the previous season, Thomas Ouwejan has lost his offensive threat by switching to the back four. The more defensive role, because he usually still has a winger in front of him, in combination with Kramer's style of play, has put him under some pressure. He is dueling with newcomer Tobias Mohr for dominance on the left flank. Actually more of a winger, Mohr has recently been able to convince as a left-back. As important as Ouwejan can be, he probably won't be automatically selected for the time being. As there are currently other players in midfield, only one of the two will be in the starting XI in the short to medium term. So much can be said: Mohr has better cards in this duel than he was capable of a few weeks ago.
If it were up to the fans, the vote would be quite clear: Rodrigo Zalazar would then be much more likely to start than Dominick Drexler. However, the roles are currently reversed under Kramer. It recently became clear that the trainer intends the same role for the two. So they will only play together in a few cases. Instead, fierce competition is the order of the day. Drexler is clearly in a better position to start. He's been able to win the favor of the coach in recent weeks, while Zalazar is accused internally of not having the necessary stamina. The 23-year-old will probably be used as a substitute for the time being. Meanwhile, his teammate should continue to be part of the first eleven. But one thing is clear: neither will give each other anything and will fight for their playing times.
The change took place after the 1: 6 swatter against Union Berlin: Up to and including this home game, Alex Kral had the interpretation sovereignty on the blue-white six. Since then he has not been in the starting XI. The beneficiary: Florian Flick. He was allowed to play the other three games from the start. Now it's up to the latter to maintain his current advantage. For the Czech newcomer, it is about offering himself in training in such a way that Kramer thinks an adjustment is conceivable again. If the chance arises, Kral will do a lot to ensure that he does not have to rotate to the bench again. However, since Flick has shown good performances in his last appearances and hardly any need for a change, this duel will probably drag on for a while .Remarkable: Danny Latza hardly ever manages to get involved in the six-man duel, at least in the eyes of the public.
Due to Malick Thiaw's change, Sepp van den Berg was thrown in at the deep end shortly after his arrival in Gelsenkirchen, i.e. in the starting XI. He seemed a bit nervous and insecure at his first appearance, but he has since been able to stabilize himself. If you look at the statistics, he has already achieved an impressive average number of interceptions. With 7.83 per 90 minutes he is even at the top of the league. Due to the small number of appearances, this average is not really meaningful. Central defender colleague Maya Yoshida will most likely be set. Since Kramer is just as likely to stay with the back four, van den Berg will have to assert himself against Leo Greiml in the near future. The Austrian is already putting pressure on. In last week's friendly, his first S04 game from the start (due to his long-term injury), he was already convincing. It can already be assumed that the two youngsters will get in each other's way. But: If van den Berg continues to convince, while Greiml can recommend himself further, Yoshida will have to improve again, otherwise he will lose a duel in which he is not actually taking part.
It's been a very unfair duel so far. But because Kramer continues to rely on Sebastian Polter and almost wants to force him to experience success, it's a duel. One where Simon Terodde has a clear advantage. He hasn't been able to score as well as he would like. But he is significantly better and more important for the S04 game than the most expensive summer newcomer. Polter hangs in the air too often and can only rarely act as a reference station. As long as he's fit and ready, Terodde will continue to be the number one striker.
When it comes to the Schalke competition, Danny Latza, Mehmet Aydin and Florent Mollet should also be mentioned. The three have one thing in common: they hoped to play for significantly more time than they have received so far - and they can play their respective roles to date not yet intervene in the biggest duels. Kral and Flick are in front of Latza. Brunner and Matriciani stand in front of Aydin. In front of Mollet are Drexler and Zalazar. And yet they are not as far from a good chance as one might think. The best example of this was last Sunday's friendly. While Aydin was on the road for the German U20, the two teammates were allowed to show themselves. Mollet in particular was able to advertise himself - the captain not so much. After the international break, i.e. during these training days, they could get a step closer to the competition.
This article was originally published on 90min.com as The Hottest Competitions at Schalke 04.