Athletic Bilbao - Schalke Preview: Bielsa's men targeting second-leg victory after 4-2 success in Germany

The Basques can edge closer to European glory at San Mames, with much of the hard work accomplished in Gelsenkirchen in the first leg of their tie with the Royal Blues



Iraola, Ekiza, Martinez, Aurtenetxe
Perez, De Marcos, Herrera
Susaeta, Llorente, Muniain

Uchida, Matip, Papadopoulos, Escudero
Jones, Holtby
Farfan, Raul, Obasi

Having rested several key plays for Saturday's defeat to Barcelona, Marcelo Bielsa should reincorporate the likes of Ander Herrera, Iker Muniain and Fernando Llorente. Ibai Gomez and Gaizka Toquero are likely to settle for a place on the bench, while Ander Iturraspe and Fernando Amorebieta are suspended for this game.

For Schalke, Lars Unnerstall should make his European comeback, having surprisingly started against Hoffenheim on Sunday. However, fellow goalkeepers Ralf Fahrmann and Timo Hildebrand remain sidelined.

Benedikt Howedes and Christoph Metzelder are still injured and Huub Stevens will be without left-back Christian Fuchs, who is ill. In midfield Lewis Holtby is in with a chance to replace Marco Hoger, who disappointed in the 2-4 loss to Athletic Bilbao. As well, Stevens has decided to give left-winger Julian Draxler a rest during Thursday's match.

  • Athletic Bilbao have won all of their last four Europa League games.
  • The last time a German side played at San Mames Werder Bremen ran out 3-0 winners against the Basque outfit in 2009.
  • However, Bilbao, since losing to Thomas Schaaf's side, have not lost any of the seven subsequent home games in Europe.
  • Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (pictured right) has scored a hat-trick in both of the last two rounds, but failed score in the first leg.
  • He scored twice in a 5-2 win at San Mames in 2009, when playing for Real Madrid.
  • The Royal Blues kept a clean sheet in all of their away games in the group stage, but have failed to win on their European travels since.