Summary

  • Schalke finished last season in a fifth place.
  • Weinzierl has replaced Breitenreiter in the hotseat at the VELTINS Arena.
  • Coke, Embolo and Naldo are headline summer arrivals.

With not long until the 2016/17 Bundesliga season gets under way in earnest, it is high time to put each club's upcoming campaign under the microscope. Accordingly, bundesliga.com's previews will provide you with all you need to know ahead of the big kick-off on 26 August…

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Next up are FC Schalke 04

Big question

Expectations are never anything less than sky-high at Schalke. The second-biggest club in Germany by membership, the Royal Blues expect a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League football every season.

After finishing fifth last season, though, Andre Breitenreiter was replaced by Markus Weinzierl – one of the most sought-after managerial talents in the German game after four successful years at FC Augsburg.

The big question for Weinzierl, then, is if he can lead the club back into the UEFA Champions League at his first attempt; all the while attempting to play the attractive, attacking football also demanded by the Gelsenkirchen natives.

To those ends, young striker Breel Embolo has been brought in from FC Basel 1893. Schalke beat off plenty of competition to secure the signature of one of the hottest prospects in European football, and how the Swiss 19-year-old fares could be crucial to whether or not Weinzierl meets the fanbase's lofty demands.

New faces

Breel Embolo featured for Switzerland at UEFA EURO 2016.

Two summer arrivals in particular have got supporters in Gelsenkirchen most excited. The Cameroon-born forward Embolo found the net ten times in 27 Swiss Super League games last term, chipping in with a further seven assists, before featuring in all four of Switzerland's UEFA EURO 2016 fixtures. Yet fans will have to wait to see the other headline-making arrival in action. Sevilla FC's Europa League-winning captain Coke will miss the first six months of the season after suffering a knee ligament injury shortly after joining the Royal Blues.

Watch: Introducing the Schalke new boys

Schalke have shaken up the back line too with some impressive signings. Centre-back Naldo, was brought in from VfL Wolfsburg to replace the outgoing Joel Matip. The 33-year-old brings valuable experience and is expected to form one of the league's most formidable defensive partnerships with Benedikt Höwedes. And left-back Abdul Rahman Baba, who made his name under Weinzierl at Augsburg, has joined on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

Coach

Markus Weinzierl is the new man in charge at Schalke.

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Weinzierl joins Schalke after four hugely impressive seasons at Augsburg.

His successes in Bavaria can hardly be overstated; four successive survivals – a fifth-place finish in 2014/15, no less – are a remarkable achievement for a club of Augsburg's size.

One of Germany's brightest young coaching talents, the 41-year-old also led Die Fuggerstädter to the UEFA Europa League round of 32 for the first time in club history last season, before an eventual 1-0 defeat to finalists Liverpool FC.

Such an impressive CV is the primary reason expectations are so high at Schalke this season, but Weinzierl's credentials for one of the biggest jobs in the country will be tested in his very first home game: the Royal Blues welcome champions FC Bayern München on Matchday 2.

Key man

From the archive: Ralf Fährmann is a key man at Schalke

Goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann was brilliant for Die Knappen last season, rescuing his side with brilliant saves countless times and generally proving himself to be the best No1 at the club since Manuel Neuer.

Fährmann's handling skills, awareness and presence in the box are certainly reminiscent of the Bayern and Germany stopper.

With a solid partnership in front of him this season in Naldo and Höwedes, Fährmann might have less to do, but you can be assured that when called upon he will deliver unfailingly.

Pre-season form

Most recent first: WWLWLW

Key dates

Schalke kick the season off at Eintracht Frankfurt, before welcoming the champions Bayern on Matchday 2. The Revierderby at Borussia Dortmund takes place on Matchday 9.

Click here to see Schalke's full schedule

Home ground

One of the Bundesliga's most impressive stadia, the VELTINS Arena is almost always packed out to its 62,271 capacity.

Watch: get to know the VELTINS Arena in the exclusive video tour below