MX23RW : Wednesday, July 28 22:19:07| >> :120:28581:28581:
May 22, 2021 at 2.30pm UK at RheinEnergieStadion
FC KolnFC Koln
SchalkeSchalke 04
Bornauw (86')
Bornauw (44')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Flick (30'), Idrizi (69')

Preview: FC Koln vs. Schalke 04 - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Bundesliga clash between FC Koln and Schalke 04, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The Bundesliga's two bottom sides clash at the RheinEnergieSTADION on the final day of the season as 17th-placed FC Koln play host to already-relegated Schalke 04.

Only a win will do for the hosts as they bid to preserve their Bundesliga status, otherwise they will be plying their trade in the 2. Bundesliga alongside their opponents Schalke next season.

Match preview

FC Koln players celebrate scoring against Union Berlin on November 22, 2020© Reuters

A number of positive results during the early days of Friedhelm Funkel's reign have given Koln a fighting chance of remaining in the division, with victories over RB Leipzig and Augsburg doing them the world of good as they bid to climb out of the drop zone.

After holding Hertha Berlin to a 0-0 draw back in January, the Billy Goats failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their next 16 games before playing out another goalless stalemate with the 14th-placed side in gameweek 33, and they will be eternally thankful that neither Werder Bremen nor Arminia Bielefeld managed to win last time out either.

Koln's destiny is still out of their own hands, though, as they occupy 17th spot in the table - one point behind Bremen in the relegation playoff place and two adrift of Arminia in safety - so even if they do manage to come up trumps this weekend, other results have to go their way.

However, with a mere 11 points collected from a possible 48 at the RheinEnergieSTADION, Koln boast the worst home tally in the division, and failure to win this weekend would see them set an unwanted club record for the fewest points on familiar territory in a single season.

One consolation for Funkel's side is that they have managed to find the back of the net in their last five home matches, but should their relegation rivals manage to come up with the goods on the final matchday, imminent arrival Steffen Baumgart may be navigating the Billy Goats through the second division in the 2021-22 season.

Schalke 04 players celebrate their second goal scored by Matthew Hoppe on January 9, 2021© Reuters

In a display of fighting spirit that has been more or less absent all season long, Schalke found the back of the net four times against Eintracht Frankfurt to seal a 4-3 success over the European hopefuls - not that it has done much good for their league position, though.

Andre Silva unsurprisingly increased his prolific tally for the season with a brace on the night, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Matthew Hoppe, Florian Flick and Blendi Idrizi netted for Schalke to propel them to just their third league win of an otherwise torrid 2020-21 campaign.

Dimitrios Grammozis's side at least gave their fans something to cheer about with that thrilling success, but there is very little else to feel jolly about as Schalke prepare for life in the 2. Bundesliga, having collected just 16 points from 99 on offer this term.

While Koln are not renowned for any sort of prowess at home, Schalke have not won on the road in the Bundesliga since November 2019 - a run of 27 away matches without success - and failure to pick up all three points this weekend would see them set a new record for the worst finish in the three-points-per-win era - an unwanted record currently held by Freiburg's 18 points in the 2004-05 season.

Koln managed to overcome Schalke 2-1 earlier in the season and are unbeaten in their last seven top-flight meetings with the basement side, although Billy Goats coach Funkel can only boast three wins from his 31 clashes with Schalke while in the dugout.

FC Koln Bundesliga form:
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D

Schalke 04 Bundesliga form:
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W

Team News

Ismail Jakobs in action for Koln against RB Leipzig on June 1, 2020© Reuters

Koln duo Ismail Jakobs and Ellyes Skhiri picked up their fifth bookings of the season last time out and will miss the final day of the season, while Elvis Rexhbecaj and Benno Schmitz are both casualties of the draw with Hertha after picking up knocks.

Marco Hoger and Salih Ozcan are both candidates to start in the middle should Rexhbecaj not make the cut, while Jannes Horn should earn a place in defence as Jakobs misses out.

The hosts have also received a huge boost with the news that captain Jonas Hector is back in team training, and the injury-plagued midfielder will almost certainly be named in the first XI if he is fit enough.

Huntelaar's heroics against Frankfurt came at a cost as he was taken off after 55 minutes with a calf problem, and his participation in Saturday's game is up in the air, while the visitors are still without the likes of William, Benjamin Stambouli, Omar Mascarell, Matija Nastasic and Nabil Bentaleb.

A coronavirus cluster has also decimated Schalke's ranks in recent weeks, but one positive for them is the return of Sead Kolasinac from suspension, with Bastian Oczipka's place in doubt as he prepares to leave the club.

A number of youngsters in the visitors' ranks are benefitting from their club's injury crisis, and last week's goalscorer Hoppe will be eyeing a start in the final third if Huntelaar is not passed fit.

FC Koln possible starting lineup:
Horn; Ehizibue, Bornauw, Czichos, Horn; Hector, Ozcan; Thielmann, Duda, Kainz; Andersson

Schalke 04 possible starting lineup:
Fahrmann; Sane, Becker, Mustafi; Flick; Aydin, Harit, Idrizi, Kolasinac; Hoppe, Paciencia

SM words green background

We say: FC Koln 3-2 Schalke 04

Schalke are refusing to go down with a whimper - despite their plethora of absentees - and with Koln's notoriously shaky defence, we can envisage a goal-fest in this bottom-of-the-table clash.

However, the soon-to-be 2. Bundesliga outfit just cannot hack it away from home, and while Koln are not exactly a force to be reckoned with on their own turf, we expect the hosts to give themselves the best chance possible of staying up with a narrow, but thrilling triumph.

Top tip

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