Montpellier - Schalke Preview: Visitors can wrap up first place finish
Huub Stevens' side sealed their place in the last 16 by beating Olympiakos on matchday 5, but can make sure they end the group stage ahead of Arsenal on Tuesday
By Enis Koylu
Congre, Yanga-Mbiwa, Hilton, El Kaoutari
Utaka, Belhanda, Cabella
Uchida, Howedes, Matip, Fuchs
Farfan, Holtby, Draxler
Montpellier coach Rene Girard could name a few changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Olympique Lyonnais on Saturday.
Geoffrey Jourdren, Teddy Mezague, Joris Marveuax, Karim Ait-Fana and Garry Bocaly have all been struggling with injuries, but Hilton returns to the fold after a recent layoff.
Meanwhile, Jamel Saihi and Cyril Jeunechamp could both feature having missed recent domestic matches through suspension, though the latter will have to see off competition from Daniel Congre. Finally, Remy Cabella could come back into the fold.
Whether Huub Stevens' decides to pick a strong Schalke side is open to conjecture. In theory they could name the same team that drew 1-1 with Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday, featuring stars such as Lewis Holtby, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Julian Draxler.
However, he could opt to give game time to some of the fringe players, including the likes of Christoph Metzelder, Tranquillo Barnetta, Chinedu Obasi and Teemu Pukki. Timo Hildebrand should continue in goal in place of out of favour Lars Unnerstall.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Montpellier's 2-0 loss to Arsenal on matchday 5 not only confirmed their exit from the Champions League, but from all European competition this season.
- The only point the Ligue 1 champions have won in the tournament was against Schalke at the Veltins Arena on matchday 2.
- MHSC have entertained German opposition on three previous occasions, beating Koln and Duisburg in 1997 and 1999 respectively, before being held to a 1-1 draw by Hamburg.
- Schalke need a victory to confirm their place at the top of Group B. If they were to lose or draw, they would have to hope that Olympiakos can stop Arsenal from winning.
- Julian Draxler (pictured, right), who scored the equaliser against Borussia Monchengladbach at the weekend, broke his arm when these two sides first met in October.
- Their victory over Olympiakos a fortnight ago was the only game that Schalke have won in their last five in all competitions.
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Top 3 Predictions
Montpellier HSC 1-2 Schalke 04
- 16.05 %
Montpellier HSC 1-1 Schalke 04
- 14.4 %
Montpellier HSC 0-2 Schalke 04
- 13.99 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Dec 4, 2012||Montpellier HSC 1 - Schalke 04 1|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 3, 2012||Schalke 04 2 - Montpellier HSC 2|
|Dec 4, 2013||Montpellier HSC 0 - FC Lorient 2||FRA1|
|Nov 29, 2013||Olympique de Marseille 2 - Montpellier HSC 0||FRA1|
|Nov 23, 2013||Montpellier HSC 1 - EA Guingamp 1||FRA1|
|Nov 9, 2013||Valenciennes FC 1 - Montpellier HSC 1||FRA1|
|Nov 3, 2013||Montpellier HSC 1 - FC Nantes Atlantique 1||FRA1|
|5||Vitorino Hilton da Silva||Defender|
|21||Abdelhamid El Kaoutari||Defender|
|19||Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi||Striker|
While Montpellier might be making an early exit from the Champions League this season, one player who looks certain to be back in the competition is Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, who can prove that he is one of Europe's top young defenders by shackling the likes of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Impressive when these two sides met in October, Julian Draxler has been one of his team's stars this season, and will be eager to exact revenge on the Ligue 1 champions after his campaign was temporarily halted by the broken arm sustained against them on matchday 2.
Schalke may have made an excellent start to the season, but they have tailed off in recent weeks. Montpellier, meanwhile, will be eager to leave the Champions League having done something of note, and I would expect these two teams to fight out a draw.