Gelsenkirchen - Prior to FC Schalke 04’s 4-1 victory over FC Augsburg on Matchday 8, the Royal Blues had struggled to replicate their impressive European form on the domestic front.
Far from easy
Things didn’t exactly get off to the best of starts against the Fuggerstädter either: A tenth-minute Sascha Mölders goal put Augsburg ahead, but visitors' defender Ragnar Klavan was soon given his marching orders and the hosts wasted no time in capitalising on their one-man advantage. Goals from Kevin-Prince Boateng, Max Meyer and a brace from Adam Szalai completed a comfortable win for Jens Keller's team.
The victory, Schalke’s first in the league since their 1-0 win over 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Matchday 5, ensures they go into the international break in a positive frame of mind on the back of several tricky fixtures. “We’ve had a couple of intensive weeks, what with the Champions League and the DFB Cup,” said captain Benedikt Höwedes.
“We’ve covered a lot of ground. That makes me all the happier that we beat Augsburg so convincingly," Höwedes continued. “We were struggling a little when it was 11 versus 11, as it was an open game and both teams had good chances. We tried to create opportunities, which wasn’t easy as Augsburg were clever and shut things down at the back.”
Meyer off the mark
Julian Draxler has deservedly grabbed the headlines in recent weeks following some stellar performances, most notably against FC Basel 1893 in the Champions League, but it was another Schalke youngster who got his name on the scoresheet on Matchday 8. 18-year-old Meyer's late strike on Saturday - his maiden Bundesliga goal - completed the scoring against Augsburg.
“I’m pleased that Max managed to score his first Bundesliga goal in front of our own fans,” said Draxler. "He’s been demonstrating that he’s got a lot to offer these past few weeks. Sooner or later he’ll be a very important player for this club.” Head coach Keller was also delighted with his young stars. “I’m really happy we had five players from our own youth setup on the pitch at the end of the match. That makes me a proud coach.”
On the right track
Overall, Höwedes feels Schalke can be happy with their solid, rather than spectacular, start to the season. "We’ve worked very hard. Of course we’re not completely satisfied with our points total in the Bundesliga, because we’ve dropped a number of important points. It makes us all the happier that we managed to win ahead of the international break and keep our forward momentum going."
That will certainly be needed once the Bundesliga resumes in a couple of weeks. An awkward away tie to an Eintracht Braunschweig side buoyed by their first victory of the season awaits on Matchday 9, before a Matchday 10 encounter the Royals Blues cannot afford to lose - a home fixture against neighbours and eternal rivals Borussia Dortmund.
Click here to see Atsuto Uchida's reaction to Schalke's win over Augsburg courtesy of the Bundesliga’s official YouTube channel: