Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 will be determined to maintain their unbeaten home record this season when high-flying VfL Wolfsburg visit the Veltins Arena on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 14:30 GMT/15:30 CET)
bundesliga.com looks ahead to what promises to be a barnstorming clash between two of the league's heavyweights...
Having had a wobbly start to the season, Schalke are hoping to start a good run of form to help them up the table and out of the 11th place they currently occupy. By contrast, the Wolves have started superbly and are second in the standings, just three points behind leaders FC Bayern München. Victory is therefore imperative if they're to stay within touching distance.
The hosts will have to soldier on without a handful of first-team regulars. Defender Dennis Aogo (pictured) is suspended after collecting a fifth yellow card of the season last time out, while Julian Draxler, Sead Kolasinac, Leon Goretzka, Jefferson Farfan and Fabian Giefer are all out injured.
The physios are considerably less busy in Wolfsburg, where defender Felipe Lopes and midfielder Patrick Ochs are the only certain absentees. Neither of that duo have featured at all this season though, meaning coach Dieter Hecking can field the preferred XI that has served him so well thus far in 2014/15.
moved up to third in the Netherlands' all-time top scorer's chart during the international break after hitting his 37th and 38th goals for the Oranje. He is also Schalke's top marksman this season with four strikes to his name, so hopes of a home victory rest firmly on his shoulders.
With an astonishing nine league assists already this term, there is no doubt that is Wolfsburg's chief dangerman and new undisputed on-field leader. The Belgian's ability to float in between the lines makes him hard to mark, and he is constantly on the look out for spaces to thread the decisive pass.
Roberto Di Matteo (l.), (Schalke coach): "We’re at home and will try to take the initiative. We need to find the right balance between defence and attack."
Dietere Hecking, (Wolfsburg coach): "We want to be very successful in what remains of the first half of the season. Our aim is to take all three points."
Schalke have not had the marked upswing in form they had anticipated when Di Matteo took charge, winning two and losing two since then. They succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in Freiburg last time out, while the Wolves' 2-0 triumph over Hamburg on Matchday 11 was their sixth successive league win and third straight clean sheet.
The overall balance of power is remarkably even between these two: of the 34 Bundesliga fixtures contested to date, Schalke have won 11 and Wolfsburg ten. The Royal Blues have, however, won each of their four most recent meetings with the Wolves at home, scoring ten and conceding just one in the process.
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Schalke: Fährmann - Uchida, Höwedes, Neustädter, Fuchs - Höger, Kirchhoff - Choupo-Moting, Boateng, Meyer - Huntelaar
Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Jung, Naldo, Knoche, Rodriguez - Guilavogui, Luiz Gustavo - Perisic, Hunt, De Bruyne - Olic