Cologne - After the disappointment of finishing outside of the UEFA Champions League places last season, FC Schalke 04 will be raring to prove their top-four credentials this term when they face SV Werder Bremen on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CEST / 13:30 GMT)
The Royal Blues brought in a number of new faces over the summer to help them back into the elite, chief among them set-piece expert Johannes Geis, former Bremen striker Franco Di Santo, and highly-rated coach Andre Breitenreiter.
Nevertheless, despite losing Di Santo the hosts remain a formidable obstacle. Bremen improved dramatically when Viktor Skripnik took charge of the first team last season, and their brand of fast-paced, attacking football can be as devastating as it is entertaining.
- Bremen have only earned three points of a possible 30 from their last ten games against Schalke: three draws and seven defeats. Only against FC Bayern München do they have a longer winless streak. Schalke have only beaten Hamburger SV more often than the 34 times they have defeated Bremen.
The Royal Blues have only lost one of the last 14 matches against Bremen: a 2-0 home reverse on 1 May 2010. At the time Schalke, then coached by Felix Magath, were level on points with Bayern, but that defeat on the penultimate matchday of the season ended their title hopes.
A total of 19 penalties have been awarded in the 92 Bundesliga fixtures between the sides to date. Of that tally, 14 were given to Bremen and just five to Schalke.
Bremen haven’t beaten Schalke at home in their last seven attempts (three draws, four defeats). They have failed to keep a clean sheet on home turf in this fixture on the last nine occasions.
Schalke are unbeaten in seven games against the Green-Whites and have kept a clean sheet in Bremen 11 times. However, Schalke have not won away in the Bundesliga so far in 2015.
Schalke have only lost one of their last ten away games in Bremen. On that occasion, in 2007/08, they were hammered 5-1, a result which led to coach Mirko Slomka’s dismissal.