Weston McKennie and debutant George Timotheou helped Schalke climb up to 14th place by holding off a lively VfB Stuttgart attack in a goalless draw on the final day of the season.
Schalke hosted relegation play-off-bound Stuttgart hoping to get a final-day victory and head into the summer break on a high note. The visitors, however, had other ideas and looked more likely to grab the first goal. Mario Gomez put the ball in the back of the net following a corner taken short and crossed by Esswein, only to see it ruled out for offside. Daniel Didavi was the next to go close, when a fortunate deflection off Benjamin Stambouli saw the ball stopped by the bar. For the hosts, Guido Burgstaller was the most dangerous man and should have put his side ahead just before the break, but could not direct his effort on target. The two sides went back to the dressing rooms as they began.
The second half brought a double change for Stuttgart, who brought on Chadrac Akolo and Gonzalo Castro for Didavi and captain Christian Gentner. Unable to break down their opponents with just over an hour played, Schalke turned to Wales attacker Rabbi Matondo to add some fresh verve to their attack. Gomez would not have the chance to add to his seven-goal tally for the season as he was withdrawn in favour of Nicolas Gonzalez. The forward had an immediate impact, winning his team a free-kick that resulted in Benjamin Pavard nearly signing off in style for Stuttgart, but keeper Alexander Nübel was once again the hero for Schalke. The loudest cheers of the day came when retiring veteran Sascha Riether made a late entry as a substitute for Daniel Caligiuri.
- Stuttgart interim coach Nico Willig has overseen more wins in four matches (two) than predecessor Markus Weinzierl managed in 15 (one).
- VfB captain Gentner made his 500th Bundesliga appearance.
- Twenty-seven points is Stuttgart’s worst-ever points total. They have previously always hit at least 32.
- Schalke’s Caligiuri and Stuttgart’s Gomez ended the season on seven goals apiece.
- 2018/19 has been Schalke’s worst season since their relegation to the second tier in 1987/88.
- Schalke ended the season with a winless run of eight matches on home soil (D3, L5).
Schalke: Nübel – McKennie, Stambouli (c), Timotheou – Rudy – Caligiuri (Riether 89'), Serdar (Konoplyanka 80'), Boujellab, Oczipka – Burgstaller, Embolo (Matondo 63')
Unused subs: Langer, Teuchert, Harit, Wiemann
Out: Bentaleb (not considered), Mendyl (not considered), Schöpf (knee), Skrzybski (thigh), Uth (groin)
Coach: Huub Stevens
Stuttgart: Zieler – Pavard, Baumgartl, Badstuber, Insua – Esswein, Aogo, Gentner (c) (Castro 46'), Sosa – Didavi (Akolo 46') – Gomez (Gonzalez 69')
Unused subs: Grahl, Donis, Kabak, Kopacz
Out: Ascacibar (suspended), Beck (knee), Maffeo (not considered), Thommy (ankle), Zuber (knee)
Coach: Nico Willig