Hoffenheim - Schalke Preview: Royal Blues aiming to bounce back from Europa League misery & cement grip on third place

Markus Babbel's men will be full of confidence after their comeback against Gladbach last week, while the Gelsenkirchen club suffered a demoralising defeat in midweek to Bilbao


Beck, Vorsah, Vestergaard, Johnson
Weis, Rudy
Vukcevic, Firmino, Salihovic


Uchida, Matip, Papadopoulos, Fuchs
Jones, Holtby
Farfan, Raul, Draxler

Markus Babbel will have an almost-full squad to pick his side from for the visit of Schalke. Matthias Jaissle is the only injured player, but the 23-year-old is nearing a return and is in advanced training.

Elsewhere, Marvin Compper picked up his fifth booking of the season during last week's victory against Borussia Monchengladbach, and is set to be replaced by Jannik Vestergaard.

Meanwhile, Roberto Firmino, the catalyst for the turn-around against Lucien Favre's side, should come back into the starting lineup instead of Daniel Williams, who failed to impress in the Brazilian's stead.

Huub Stevens has been dealt yet another goalkeeping blow in the course of Thursday's Europa League defeat to Athletic Bilbao, with Timo Hildebrand sustaining an elbow injury that will keep him sidelined, along with long-term absentees Lars Unnerstall and Ralf Fahrmann.

Elsewhere, the only other change should see Lewis Holtby replace Marco Hoger who was surprisingly selected for the clash with the Basques. Benedikt Howedes and Christoph Metzelder remain unavailable, both suffering from hamstring injuries.

  • Hoffenheim's victory over Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend was just their second victory of 2012.
  • Additionally, the clash at Borussia Park was the first time the Sinsheim outfit side have come from behind to snatch all three points.
  • Hoffenheim have failed to win any of their last eight home matches.
  • Schalke have been ahead at both half-time and full-time in their last three league matches.
  • Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (pictured, right) has netted 22 Bundesliga goals this season, but only six of these have come on the road.
  • Chinedu Obasi joined Schalke on loan from Hoffenheim in January, and recently made his move to the Veltins Arena permanent.