At the halfway point of the 2016/17 Bundesliga season, it is time for bundesliga.com to dissect the campaigns of each club so far.
Story so far
Here we look at FC Schalke 04...
Just about everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for Markus Weinzierl at the start of the season, as Schalke opened the season with five defeats. That disastrous run was ended by five wins and two draws from the next seven, but a 2-1 defeat to RB Leipzig on Matchday 13 began a period of four games before the onset of the winter break that yielded just one point. The UEFA Europa league has provided some respite - Schalke won their group to set up a last-32 clash with PAOK FC, but stabilising that fluctuating domestic form will be their key challenge in early 2017.
Watch: Schalke picked up an emphatic first win of the season against Borussia Mönchengladbach:
Star player:Nabil Bentaleb
Bentaleb scored five goals in a nine-game unbeaten run in all competitions that included seven wins, underlining one thing: when the Algerian is in form, so too are the Royal Blues. "We're very happy. You can't wish for anything more than having a defensive midfielder who can play the decisive foward pass," said Schalke's general manager Christian Heidel of his summer loan recruit from Tottenham Hotspur FC.
Watch: Bentaleb finding his feet:
Honourable mention:Sead Kolasinac
Another feature of Schalke's game this season has been the lung-bursting runs down the left wing by Sead Kolasinac. The 23-year-old has scored three goals this term, with two of them coming in consecutive games against SV Darmstadt 98 and Leipzig Add to that the four assists and you have a player who is quickly becoming the finished article on the back of over 80 Bundesliga appearances for the Royal Blues.