Abdul Baba-Rahman's winner over Nice was a rare highlight in a tough season so far for Schalke. - © © imago
Abdul Baba-Rahman's winner over Nice was a rare highlight in a tough season so far for Schalke. - © © imago

Schalke chasing Europa League tonic against Salzburg

FC Schalke 04's European form stands in stark contrast to their domestic travails ahead of FC Salzburg's visit to the Veltins Arena in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday evening (kick-off: 19:00 CET/17:00 GMT).

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The Royal Blues have yet to win a Bundesliga game since Markus Weinzierl succeeded Andre Breitenreiter as coach in June, with Sunday's 2-1 loss at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim meaning they have dropped all 15 points available to them so far in this Bundesliga campaign.

It has been an altogether different story on the continent, however, with the Abdul Baba Rahman-inspired 1-0 victory over OGC Nice two weeks ago leaving Schalke top of Group I, and undefeated in no fewer than their last 13 Europa League group stage fixtures.

Weinzierl made it to the round of 32 with unfancied FC Augsburg last season, and he refusing to panic. "I know that the team has quality," he said at his pre-match press conference.

"The situation is not pleasant, but putting the players under pressure will not guarantee the best performance from them. We want to take momentum into the Bundesliga."

Schalke are likely to be without injured pair Leon Goretzka and Eric Maxim Chuopo-Moting against the Austrian champions, with the former nursing a muscular injury and the latter picking up a knock after scoring the opening goal against Hoffenheim.

RB Leipzig's sister club Salzburg lost their group opener 1-0 to Russian outfit FC Krasnodar, but have rebounded with two wins and a draw domestically since. They are currently four points off the top spot in the Austrian Bundesliga, though, and Schalke captain Benedikt Höwedes senses an opportunity.

"We had a very good match in Nice," he said. "Maybe this game is coming at the right time for us so that we can clear our heads."

Match Facts

    Klaas-Jan Huntelaar's next goal will be his 50th in UEFA club competition.The match takes place on Yevhen Konoplyanka's 27th birthday.Salzburg have only one win in six previous meetings with German opposition.