Gelsenkirchen - It was a vital victory. FC Schalke 04’s 2-1 success over 1. FSV Mainz 05 in Matchday 4’s conclusion was not only the perfect preparation for Thursday’s start of the UEFA Europa League, but also an indication that there is most certainly life after Julian Draxler.
That much was evident when the Royal Blues launched yet another fast-paced counter-attack, this one in the 86th minute, which ended with substitute Leroy Sane rolling the ball to Max Meyer, whose powerful shot came within inches of adding a third goal. As impressive as the fluidity and telepathic understanding, though, was the fact that both are only 19 years of age.
Delivering an equally virtuoso display deeper in midfield was Meyer’s close friend, Leon Goretzka. “We were finally in the starting line-up together, so we were really pleased,” explained the 20-year-old Goretzka, who was determined to impress after spending the two previous games on the bench. “You could see how much we enjoyed it out there.”
'I want to feature regularly'
Goretzka, however, is very much focussed on Schalke’s future, particularly the intense run of six games in 17 days, which begins with Thursday’s trip to Cyprus to face APOEL FC in the Europa League. “Obviously, I want to feature regularly from the start,” continued Goretzka, eager to impress after an injury-hit 2014/15 campaign. “But we all know that we have a really busy schedule coming up and will need each and every player.”
Recipe for success?
Since Draxler’s departure, Breitenreiter has made a concerted effort to remove any pressure from his starlets. “Let’s give our young talents a chance to develop,” said the coach. “That could prove a successful recipe, after all, and it might be fun in the meantime.”