Bundesliga

Bundesliga season preview: FC Schalke 04

With not long until the 2016/17 Bundesliga season gets under way in earnest, it is high time to put each club's upcoming campaign under the microscope. Accordingly, bundesliga.com's previews will provide you with all you need to know ahead of the big kick-off on 26 August…

Big question

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Next up are FC Schalke 04

- © imago / Geisser

Expectations are never anything less than sky-high at Schalke. The second-biggest club in Germany by membership, the Royal Blues expect a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League football every season.

After finishing fifth last season, though, Andre Breitenreiter was replaced by Markus Weinzierl – one of the most sought-after managerial talents in the German game after four successful years at FC Augsburg.

The big question for Weinzierl, then, is if he can lead the club back into the UEFA Champions League at his first attempt; all the while attempting to play the attractive, attacking football also demanded by the Gelsenkirchen natives.

To those ends, young striker Breel Embolo has been brought in from FC Basel 1893. Schalke beat off plenty of competition to secure the signature of one of the hottest prospects in European football, and how the Swiss 19-year-old fares could be crucial to whether or not Weinzierl meets the fanbase's lofty demands.

- © imago / Simon

New faces

Schalke have shaken up the back line too with some impressive signings. Centre-back Naldo, was brought in from VfL Wolfsburg to replace the outgoing Joel Matip. The 33-year-old brings valuable experience and is expected to form one of the league's most formidable defensive partnerships with Benedikt Höwedes. And left-back Abdul Rahman Baba, who made his name under Weinzierl at Augsburg, has joined on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

Coach

Key man

From the archive: Ralf Fährmann is a key man at Schalke

Goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann was brilliant for Die Knappen last season, rescuing his side with brilliant saves countless times and generally proving himself to be the best No1 at the club since Manuel Neuer.

Fährmann's handling skills, awareness and presence in the box are certainly reminiscent of the Bayern and Germany stopper.

With a solid partnership in front of him this season in Naldo and Höwedes, Fährmann might have less to do, but you can be assured that when called upon he will deliver unfailingly.

Pre-season form

Most recent first: WWLWLW

Key dates

Schalke kick the season off at Eintracht Frankfurt, before welcoming the champions Bayern on Matchday 2. The Revierderby at Borussia Dortmund takes place on Matchday 9.

Click here to see Schalke's full schedule

Home ground

One of the Bundesliga's most impressive stadia, the VELTINS Arena is almost always packed out to its 62,271 capacity.

Watch: get to know the VELTINS Arena in the exclusive video tour below