Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco made a dream start to life in the Bundesliga against RB Leipzig.
Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco made a dream start to life in the Bundesliga against RB Leipzig.

Schalke off to a flying start under new coach Domenico Tedesco

Schalke could hardly have made a better start to the new Bundesliga campaign, claiming a high-profile win over last season's runners-up RB Leipzig. It may still be early days, but new coach Domenico Tedesco appears to have breathed new life into the Royal Blues, after they came in a disappointing 10th last term.

A short trip back down memory lane puts things into perspective. On the opening day of last season, Schalke were narrowly beaten by Eintracht Frankfurt, while new boys Leipzig rescued a late draw against Hoffenheim. It took the Royal Blues another five weeks to finally get a win on the board under Markus Weinzierl, while Ralph Hasenhüttl's hugely impressive Leipzig remained unbeaten until Matchday 14.

Saturday's 2-0 win for Schalke at home to Leipzig has set a very different tone for both sides at the dawn of 2017/18. It will have given supporters at the Veltins Arena a renewed sense of optimism after the ups-and-downs of last season, which resulted in that below-par 10th place. They will be hoping - and expecting - to see their side back in the battle for Europe, especially as they are steeling themselves to do without continental football for the first time in eight years.

Things have certainly been looking up for Schalke ever since 31-year-old Tedesco took the helm. This may be his first top-flight appointment - he previously worked as a youth coach at Stuttgart and Hoffenheim, before swooping in to save Erzgebirge Aue from Bundesliga 2 relegation late last season - but the Italian is clearly relishing the opportunity to showcase his abilities.

"The coach prepared us brilliantly," confided new vice-captain Leon Goretzka after the Leipzig win. "We knew exactly what we had to do, and everything went according to plan. We made very few mistakes, and overall we put in a strong and memorable performance."

Tedesco only completed his UEFA Pro licence a year ago, but came through the DFB coaching academy with flying colours, finishing top of the class ahead of Julian Nagelsmann. The pair continued on to Hoffenheim, where Nagelsmann was appointed head coach in February 2016, several months before Tedesco was put in charge of the U19s.

- © gettyimages / Alex Grimm

The parallels between the pair clearly go beyond their age and links to TSG. Like Nagelsmann, Tedesco is a shrewd tactician, as Leipzig discovered to their detriment on Saturday.

"Congratulations to Domenico Tedesco and Schalke," Hasenhüttl said afterwards. "All I can say is that we put in a lot of effort but we didn't deserve to win. We had many good phases but we couldn't break through Schalke's defence."

The Royal Blues already had one of the better defensive records in the Bundesliga last season, with 40 goals conceded, but Tedesco's sense of tactical discipline should help them improve on a total of eight clean sheets - especially if the highly-experienced Naldo puts in more of the same commanding performances at the heart of their three-man backline. 

"Leipzig were able to create chances on the overlap but we do know how to defend," the Italian stressed. "It's the main reason we won today. We fought well, defended superbly, and created space. These are all things we need to continue to do for the rest of the season."

- © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA / Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bongarts/Getty Images

Tedesco will also be impressed with the debut outings of summer signings Bastian Oczipka and Amine Harit. The former has been given the sizeable task of replacing Sead Kolasinac - arguably Schalke's best player last term - but played a key role in repelling Leipzig's attacks down his left flank, while the latter teed up the resurgent Yevhen Konoplyanka for just his second Bundesliga goal.

"This is only the start," Goretzka insisted. "We still have a lot of things to work on. Every coach has his own philosophy, and we haven’t had a lot of time to adapt to this new one. So not everything is perfect. But if you beat RB Leipzig 2-0, that's definitely a good start!"

Confidence was already running high in the Schalke camp after an impressive pre-season campaign, in which they beat Turkish champions Besiktas and drew with Italian giants Inter Milan. Now that they have kicked off the Bundesliga season by seeing off last term's runners-up, don't be surprised to see the Royal Blues hitting the heights again in 2017/18.

Watch: Harit and Konoplyanka on target for Schalke against Besiktas

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