The 2015/16 Bundesliga season is now at the halfway stage, providing the ideal time to take stock of each club's progress so far. Here, bundesliga.com puts FC Schalke 04 under the microscope.
The story so far
New head coach Andre Breitenreiter faced a huge challenge when taking the reins at the club over the summer, tasked with steering the Royal Blues back into the top four after a disappointing finish to the 2014/15 season.
The 42-year-old has had a respectable start to his tenure, with Schalke currently in seventh over the winter break. The new-look attack, involving Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Franco Di Santo, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and livewire teenager Leroy Sane, has kept fans entertained, although all-too-frequent lapses in concentration at the back have cost Schalke important points. With a couple of tweaks going into the new year, the club can have plenty to look forward to - including a UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie against FC Shakhtar Donetsk.
- Only Hannover 96 (73 per cent) have converted a higher percentage of clear-cut scoring chances than Schalke (66.7 per cent).
- Schalke have scored the most goals from corners this term (four).
- Only VfB Stuttgart have had more shots on goal on the counter (26) than the Royal Blues (25).
Sane has arguably been the revelation of the 2015/16 Hinrunde in the Bundesliga. The 19-year-old has become a bona-fide star, swaggering down the wing at pace and with a poise that belies his tender age. Goals and assists have come regularly, and the Gelsenkirchen fans invariably rise to their feet whenever he is on the ball.
Indeed, such has been Sane's impact that he is now a full Germany international, and is one of the most exciting prospects in European football. Breitenreiter will be eager to channel his youthful energy into more points as the season enters its decisive phase.
Remind yourself of Schalke's placing in the standings during the season with our interactive league table. Simply click on the + symbol at the end of each row in the standings for a comprehensive statistical overview.
Watch Schalke hit the ground running on Matchday 1, setting the tone for the Hinrunde with a 3-0 win at SV Werder Bremen.