Schalke 04 vs Union Berlin 


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Today’s free tip is in the German Bundesliga encounter between Schalke 04 and Union Berlin.

Truth be told, I really wish Schalke 04 hadn’t sacked Wagner yet. Well, I’m not so sure that sacking him was the right course of action anyway. I know the fans disliked him but they must surely realise by now that the ailments of the club are the fault of those at the top of the ladder rather than the manager? This is not a good team, and it’s not Wagner’s fault that he’s had nothing to work with. I think relegation is imminent for Schalke 04, to be frank. It may not be this season, and it may not be the season after, but it’s going to come, just like it did for Hamburger SV.

But yeah – I wish the sacking had come at a different time because suddenly Union Berlin are the public bet today, and I dislike public bets immensely because they never seem to come off. Everybody is on Union Berlin here, and although I agree with the logic (hence the tip), the more people on it mean that the odds are not as favourable as they could be. Other than that though, I’m not seeing a reason to doubt the visitors. I suspect there’ll be some kind of bounce with Baum as interim manager, but that doesn’t stop this being a poor, poor side.

I appreciate that Schalke 04 took some beatings this season but the writing was on the wall for them way before the ex-Huddersfield Town man took. This season is a prime example; what have they done to make this season not quite as disastrous as the last, which would have almost certainly seen them relegated had it gone on for another four rounds? They’ve signed a semi-decent target man in Paciencia, a new goalkeeper in Ronnow, and classy striker Ibisevic, who is literally their only good signing there. I concur that they needed a new goalkeeper, and said it since they pathetically banished Bayern Munich-bound Nubel from the first-team (his replacement made far too many errors because he was too young and not ready), but an Eintracht Frankfurt understudy is the best they could do? Really? Also, Paciencia – at a time when they need match-winners – is supposed to be their designated striker? Honestly? He’s alright at best, and where his service is going to come from this season, I just don’t know.

One of their few remaining good players – McKennie – was allowed to leave for Juventus in a joke of a deal because the Schalke 04 board have said they need all they money they can get right now. I think they’re bloody lucky that Atalanta Bergamo ultimately signed Miranchuk instead of Harit. I think the Moroccan would have been next on the list had Gomez indeed moved to the Middle East after all, as was mooted for quite a long time. Can you imagine this team without both of them? It would probably be the worst Schalke 04 side I’ve ever seen. I mean, for goalkeepers, they’ve got Eintracht Frankfurt’s number two or veteran Fahrmann, who spent part of last season on loan with Brann Bergen in Norway. Both options were preferred to young Schubert, who has instead joined Eintracht Frankfurt on loan. Now, if they thought Schubert was ready for the Bundesliga last season, why loan him out now? I think he made way too many errors, but then again, young goalkeepers do. If he was good enough then though, why not now? Surely he deserves more faith from them than what they’ve shown?

I could go on all day about Schalke 04’s oddities all day but I don’t want to bore you all. I’ll simply surmise it by saying this; I’ve no idea how Sane still gets in this team, Turkish wonderkid Kabak is out, Nastasic has not played regularly in ages, their main goal threat Serdar is out, they’ve no flair/creativity other than Harit, and they’re short of goal-scorers. The only positive thing is that Schalke 04 have the best academy in German football so they’re never far away from the next wonderkid. These days though, they’re only too happy to accept any bid that comes in, or so it seems, and that means that this club is going nowhere fast – other than down.

The above represents a team that Union Berlin should not struggle with. Schalke 04 are energetic, to be fair to them, and I am sure they’ll be out to impress their new boss. However, Union Berlin were made in the Bundesliga 2, and you don’t get out of that division to begin with unless you have drive, commitment, and belief. The capital club have stayed true to their roots since being promoted too – a lot of these lads played for them in the division below, and that’s where some of their new recruits (e.g. Griesbeck) came from. They’ll never back down from a battle, Union Berlin, and I love that about them.

True enough, they do lack quality in some areas. Take their home game versus Augsburg earlier this season, for example. Augsburg weren’t better than them, but still ran out 3-1 winners because Union Berlin’s defending from wide positions was atrocious, and because Union Berlin didn’t take their chances well enough, largely because they were still adjusting to life without Andersson as a target man. For what it’s worth, I think that selling the Swede for the amount they got was a great decision on their part; he had a marvellous campaign last season but cannot repeat it because he’s just not that good. Besides, I think Ingvartsen is a more than able deputy.

Still, Union Berlin identify their weaknesses and address them – which they’ve done this season too. They recognised their need for a natural creator after Malli’s loan spell ended, and signed Kruse on a free – an absolute bargain. He’s already proven how good he is at this level on countless occasions, especially with Werder Bremen. They also loaned Pohjanpalo from Bayer 04 Leverkusen, and I like that signing a lot. He’s a very underrated forward, the Finn, but injuries have not been kind to him. I’m sure he’ll be a great success at Union Berlin this season; he’s better than Andersson, for my money. They also brought in Awoniyi to cope with times like these when Ujah is out. Like I said – Union Berlin are a clever, calculating bunch that should never be underestimated.

Union Berlin also brought in goalkeeper Karius from Liverpool, which was a fun signing. He’s made a lot of mistakes over the past few years but knows this level well, and they needed a replacement for the departed Gikiewicz, now of Augsburg. I think it’s a risk-free move for them, especially as veteran Luthe is there too. Who knows – Karius may go back to being the reasonable goalkeeper he always was before Liverpool signed him. This is certainly the harmonious, encouraging environment that he needs in order to recapture his best form.

I like where the capital club are at right now, to be frank. They’re not excellent at anything, but they are good at the majority of things. They’re flexible, hard-working, and confident with more than a sprinkling of talent now. The way in which they dismantled a Niakhate-less Mainz 05 last time out was very encouraging, and there aren’t many teams they’d have relished playing more than spineless Schalke 04 today, with or without the expected bounce.

Therefore, backing Union Berlin to outfight, and ultimately outscore, Schalke 04 makes a lot of sense to me with draw no bet at 4/5.

Verdict: Union Berlin to win with draw no bet at 4/5. 

Sunday’s Thoughts

As ever, if there are any explanations required then please feel free to post a comment! For the remainder of my thoughts on today’s games, see below, although I feel compelled to write that the below are not necessarily my tips but merely my thoughts. For confidence ratings, you’ll need to go to the members section here.

Belgian Eerste Klasse:

Zulte-Waregem vs Antwerp 
Royal Excel Mouscron vs AS Eupen
Racing Genk vs Sporting Charleroi 
RSC Anderlecht vs OH Leuven

Brazilian Serie A:

Internacional vs Vasco da Gama 
Corinthians vs Flamengo 
RB Bragantino vs Sport Recife
Fortaleza vs Palmeiras 

Bulgarian A PFG:

Botev Vratsa vs CSKA 1948 Sofia 
Cherno More Varna vs Montana 
Slavia Sofia vs Levski Sofia 

Croatian Prva Liga:

Hajduk Split vs Sibenik 
NK Osijek vs Lokomotiva Zagreb 

Danish Superligaen:

AGF vs AC Horsens 
Vejle vs Lyngby 
SonderjyskE vs Brondby 
FC Copenhagen vs Aalborg BK 

English Premier League:

Crystal Palace vs Brighton & Hove Albion 
Leicester City vs Aston Villa 
Sheffield United vs Fulham
Tottenham Hotspur vs West Ham United 

Estonian Meistriliiga:

Tammeka vs Kuressaare 
Legion vs Flora Paide 
Trans Narva vs Flora Tallinn (

Faroese Betrideildin:

IF vs NSI Runavik 
HB Torshavn vs Vikingur Gota 
Skala vs AB 

Finnish Veikkausliiga:

IFK Mariehamn vs SJK 
Ilves vs Inter Turku
KuPS vs FC Honka Espoo 

French Ligue 1:

Racing Club Strasbourg vs Olympique Lyonnais 
Angers SCO vs Metz 
AS Monaco vs Montpellier HSC
FC Nantes Atlantique vs Stade Brestois
AS Saint-Etienne vs OGC Nice
Lille OSC vs Racing Club Lens 

German Bundesliga:

Koln vs Eintracht Frankfurt 
Schalke 04 vs Union Berlin 

German Bundesliga 2:

Fortuna Dusseldorf vs Jahn Regensburg 
Paderborn 07 vs Hannover 96
Erzgebirge Aue vs Heidenheim 
Wurzburger Kickers vs Holstein Kiel 

Hungarian Liga 1

Paksi SE vs Zalaegerszegi TE 
Budapest Honved vs Fehervar  

Icelandic Urvalsdeild:

Kvs KA 
IA vs Breidablik Kopavogur 
Vikingur Reykjavik vs Stjarnan Gardabaer

Italian Serie A:

Bologna vs Sassuolo 
Spezia vs ACF Fiorentina 
Torino vs Cagliari 
Udinese vs Parma
AS Roma vs Benevento 

Dutch Eredivisie:

Feyenoord Rotterdam vs Sparta Rotterdam 
AFC Ajax Amsterdam vs SC Heerenveen
ADO Den Haag vs Vitesse Arnhem
FC Emmen vs Fortuna Sittard 
FC Groningen vs FC Utrecht 
PEC Zwolle vs PSV Eindhoven  

Norwegian Eliteserien:

Kristiansund vs Rosenborg BK 
Haugesund vs Sarpsborg 08 
Stabaek vs Aalesund FK 
Stromsgodset vs Start Kristiansand 
Sandefjord vs Valerenga Oslo 

Portuguese Liga 1

Pacos de Ferreira vs Santa Clara
Belenenses vs Moreirense 
Farense vs Famalicao
Rio Ave vs SL Benfica

Portuguese Liga 2: 

Academica de Coimbra vs Penafiel 
Academico Viseu vs Cova de Piedade 
Sporting Covilha vs Vilafranquense 

Russian Premier League:

Arsenal Tula vs Ural Sverdlovskaya Oblast 
Rotor Volgograd vs Tambov 
CSKA Moscow vs Dinamo Moscow 
FK Rostov vs Akhmat Grozny 

Spanish Primera Liga:

Eibar vs CA Osasuna 
Athletic Club vs Levante CF 
Villarreal CF vs Valencia CF 
Deportivo Alaves vs Elche 
Huesca vs Real Valladolid 
Real BetiBalompie vs Real Sociedad 

Swedish Allsvenskan

Sirius vs Ostersunds FK 
Hammarby vs Mjallby Solvesborg
Elfsborg Boras vs Kalmar FF 
AIK Solna vs IFK Goteborg 
Varberg vs IFK Norrkoping

Swiss Super League:

Luzern vs St. Gallen 
FC Sion vs Lausanne Sport 
FC Zurich vs FC Basel 

Turkish Super Lig:

Hatayspor vs BB Erzurumspor 
Fatih Karagumruk vs Kasimpasa 
Antalyaspor vs Gazisehir Gaziantep
Goztepe vs Fenerbahce  

Enjoy your free betting tips!

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