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UEFA Champions League

  • October 3, 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen
  • Referee: S. Karasev
  • • Attendance: 50004
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Schalke - Montpellier Preview: Stevens' men look to take big step towards qualification

Schalke - Montpellier Preview: Stevens' men look to take big step towards qualification

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The Konigsblauen triumphed against Olympiakos in Greece on Matchday 1, and can put themselves in a great position to make the knock-out stages against the Ligue 1 champions

  PROBABLE LINE-UPS
SCHALKE

Unnerstall
Howedes, Matip, Papadopoulos, Fuchs
Jones, Neustadter
Afellay, Holtby, Draxler
Huntelaar
MONTPELLIER
Roma
Jourdren
Bocaly, Hilton, Congre, Yanga-Mbiwa
Saihi, Estrada
Cabella, Belhanda, Ait Fana
Camara

Schalke boss Huub Stevens has a couple of selection headaches going into the clash with the French champions. At the back, Joel Matip should keep his place at the heart of defence after scoring an excellent header against Fortuna Dusseldorf, despite Atsuto Uchida's return to fitness.

The Cameroon international's presence will mean that Benedikt Howedes will continue in his less-preferred role as a right-back, with Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Christian Fuchs completing the defence. Jermaine Jones is now fully-fit after missing the win over Mainz, and will line up alongside Roman Neustadter in midfield.

However, Jefferson Farfan, who had not recovered sufficiently from strained knee ligaments to feature against his side's Ruhr rivals, is unlikely to be any more than a substitute on Wednesday, leaving Ibrahim Afellay, Lewis Holtby and Julian Draxler to form an attacking trio behind Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, with Tranquillo Barnetta dropping out.

Meanwhile, Rene Girard's main problem area will be defence as the Paillade prepare for the trip to Gelsenkirchen. Cyril Jeunechamp limped out of the weekend's clash with Nancy and is unlikely to recover in time, while Henri Bedimo picked up an injury training.

Their absences may force club captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to act as a makeshift full-back for his side. In midfield, the coach must choose between Marco Estrada and Benjamin Stambouli, and may elect to stick with the former.

Finally, John Utaka is out, leaving Remy Cabella, Younes Belhanda and Karim Ait Fana to form a potent attacking triumvirate behind lone striker Souleymane Camara.

  DID YOU KNOW?
  • Schalke have never faced Montpellier before, but played French opposition in the group stage of this competition two years ago. The Konigsblauen beat Olympique Lyonnais 3-0 in Germany thanks to a Jefferson Farfan goal, followed by a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar double, but lost 1-0 in at Stade Gerland. Additionally, they have won all three of their home games against Ligue 1 sides.

  • The goal scored by Benedikt Howedes on Matchday 1 against Olympiakos was his side's 50th ever in the Champions League proper.
  • Julian Draxler, 19, because the youngest player to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances when he came off the bench during his side's 3-0 win over Mainz last Tuesday.
  • It took Montpellier four games to register their first Ligue 1 win of the season this term. In their title-winning 2011-12 season, they triumphed in all of their first four fixtures.

  • Paillade winger Remy Cabella (pictured, right) sent four shots wide on Matchday 1, the joint highest total, along with that of Sebastian Giovinco of Juventus and Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid.

  • Montpellier are one of three sides making their debut in the Champions League this season, along with Malaga, Nordsjaelland. Only the Spanish outfit managed to win on their first ever match in Europe's top competition.

Players to watch

I. Afellay

Position: Midfielder

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
Ibrahim Afellay has been fairly impressive without showcasing earth-shattering form since his loan move from Barcelona this summer, but given Montpellier's injuries at left-back, the Dutchman could be in for a fruitful evening's work on Wednesday. He did not have the best of times at Camp Nou due to his injuries and lack of opportunities, but having secured a temporary transfer to a Champions League club, he has a fantastic chance to show Tito Vilanova et al. that he is deserving of a place in the Blaugrana first-team this season.

M. Yanga-Mbiwa

Position: Defender

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
Having been drawn against Champions League regulars Arsenal, as well as experienced European sides Schalke and Olympiakos, Montpellier were always going to be up against it in their first jaunt into the continent's top competition. Rene Girard will be needing his big name players to step up if they are to have any chance of progression from the group. Given the absence of his defensive colleagues, a huge performance from club captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is obligatory, particularly with Schalke's attacking line proving to be as fearsome as ever.

Editor's Prediction

As Fortuna Dusseldorf proved on Friday, there are certainly gaps in the Schalke defence that can be exploited to devastating effect. However, Huub Stevens has a fantastic array of talent going forward that could create mayhem against a Montpellier team that are looking a shadow of the side that won Ligue 1 last season, particularly with the defensive injuries they are suffering. Accordingly, I'd expect the hosts to record a narrow victory and kick their Champions League campaign into gear.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Schalke 04

Montpellier

Wins
0
2
0
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

FC Schalke 04 S04
FC Schalke 04 Schalke 04
Draw
Montpellier HSC MON
Montpellier HSC Montpellier
76%

Top 3 Predictions

FC Schalke 04 S04
2 - 0
Montpellier HSC MON
FC Schalke 04 S04
3 - 1
Montpellier HSC MON
FC Schalke 04 S04
3 - 0
Montpellier HSC MON

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