The seemingly-ageless Spain international striker RAUL GONZALEZ, leading goal-getter in the illustrious history of both La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid as well as the UEFA European Cup/Champions League, started all 34 games and scored 13 goals for Schalke 04 his first season in the Bundesliga after arriving in Gelsenkirchen on a free transfer in the summer of 2010.
SCHALKE 04 GELSENKIRCHEN, long one of the most popular football clubs in all of Germany, have at their disposal two genuine international class strikers who are capable of scoring goals at the highest level. Holland World Cup striker KLAUS-JAN HUNTELAAR currently tops Schalke 04 with four goals from the first five Bundesliga matches and has added another four goals from three games in Europe to start this new season. 34-year-old veteran RAUL, who racked up 44 goals in 102 internationals for Spain earlier in his career, led die Koenigsblauen in scoring last season and has notched three goals in the German top flight thus far this term.
It will be interesting to see how the pair are deployed by Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen trainer RALF RANGNICK against Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga on Sunday; it could very well be that Raul will play behind Huntelaar more like an attacking central midfielder, as the aging Spaniard has already done a few times this season.
Schalke 04 added 25-year-old Romania international striker CIPRIAN MARICA, who scored 10 goals in 25 Bundesliga games for Vfb Stuttgart two seasons ago, on a free transfer this summer but have recently sent two forwards others on their way. After appearing as a substitute for die Koenigsblauen in the Bundesliga opener against Vfb Stuttgart, the 29-year-old Brazilian attacker EDU was loaned out for the season to Turkish Super Lig club JK Beskitas of Istanbul. And 21-year-old Switzerland international MARIO GAVRANOVIC has been farmed out to FSV 05 Mainz.
On the last day of August, the Royal Blues signed Finland international TEEMU PUKKI from HJK Helsinki for the transfer fee of 1.5 million Euros; the promising 21-year-old striker had scored both of his team’s goals in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League playoff tie with Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen earlier that month.
Germany international midfielder LEWIS HOLTBY (10) observes as Holland World Cup striker KLAUS-JAN HUNTELAAR (25), who scored 13 goals for die Koenigsblauen in all competitions following a 12.0 million Euro transfer from Italian Serie A giant AC Milan on the last day of August in 2010, shoots the first of his four goals for Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen against visiting Finnish side HJK Helsinki during the second leg of the UEFA Europa League playoff tie this past August at the Veltins Arena in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Peru international JEFFERSON FARFAN, entering his fourth year of German football, slumped to three goals in the Bundesliga after scoring 17 times his first two seasons. The 26-year-old playmaker still easily led Schalke 04 with nine assists in the top flight last term, however. Farfan did not feature in the first four matches of this season but has regained his regular place on the right for the Royal Blues and has two helpers in three Bundesliga games to begin the 2011-12 campaign.
21-year old Czech Republic international midfielder JAN MORAVEK, who scored five goals in 29 Bundesliga games while out on loan to 1.FC Kaiserslautern last season, had begun this season in the Startelf for Schalke 04 on the right but has given way.
Soon-to-be 22-year-old Germany international LEWIS HOLTBY, who totaled four goals and nine assists while out on loan last season at surprising FSV 05 Mainz, and 19-year-old Greece international KYRIAKOS PAPADOPOULOS, who made 18 appearances his first term in the Bundesliga after transferring from Olympiakos Piraeus, have been turning out in defensive midfield for die Koenigsblauen as of late.
Still only 17-year-old Germany U-21 international midfielder JULIAN DRAXLER, who scored the first goal in Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen’s heavy 5-0 defeat of MSV Duisburg in the German Cup Final last spring, seems determined to establish himself on the left and has appeared in all nine games for the Royal Blues this season; 24-year-old ALEXANDER BAUMJOHANN, who made three Bundesliga appearances for Bayern Munich two years ago, is another pushing for a place in the Schalke 04 Startelf.
One-time Spanish U-21 international midfielder JOSE JURADO, who was acquired from Atletico Madrid for the transfer fee of 13.0 million Euros in at the end of August in 2010, has made just one substitute appearance for Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen in the last four matches. United States international JERMAINE JONES, the 29-year-old who finished last season on loan to Blackburn Rovers in the English Premier League, started the Bundesliga opener against Vfb Stuttgart but has not appeared in any competition since. 30-year-old veteran midfielder PEER KLUGE has not played at all.
Peru international winger JEFFERSON FARFAN, who has scored 12 goals in 48 appearances for his country, was acquired by Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen from Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven for the considerable transfer fee of 10.0 million Euros in June of 2008; while in Holland, Farfan had scored 57 goals from 118 Eredivisie contests over four years for the Boeren.
Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen’s new starting goalkeeper this season injured ankle ligaments in the 2-1 loss to Vfl Wolfburg last week in the Bundesliga but, nevertheless, 22-year-old RALF FAEHRMANN did appear for die Koenigsblauen in the UEFA Europa League against FC Rapid Bucharest on Thursday in Romania and is expected to start opposite Bayern Munich on Saturday.
30-year-old CHRISTOPH METZELDER has played all of 13 minutes in the first five games this season on account of a calf strain but could be called into the first team again against the Bavarians. The 30-year-old veteran with 47 caps for Germany left Spanish La Liga side Real Madrid with Raul two summers ago and started 32 times for Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen in the Bundesliga last season. Plugging the gap in central defense has been the versatile 20-year-old Cameroon World Cup midfielder JOEL MATIP.
Austria international defender CHRISTIAN FUCHS, the 25-year-old left back who spent last term out on loan with FSV 05 Mainz, was the most expensive acquisition of the summer for Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen, having been bought from Vfl Bochum for the transfer fee of 3.8 million Euros. The Royal Blues also snared 22-year-old MARCO HOEGER from 2.Bundesliga club Alemannia Aachen in exchange for 1.5 million Euros this summer. Both have been regulars on the flanks at the back for Rangnick thus far, with Hoeger making it particularly hard for 23-year-old Japan World Cup defender ATSUTO UCHIDA to find a place.
The anchor on the back line for Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen is central defender BENEDIKT HOEWEDES, the 23-year-old who earned the first of his three caps for Germany in the friendly international with Uruguay last May; on the bench for die Koenigsblauen are the aging 34-year-old Ghana World Cup defender HANS SARPEI and 22-year-old Spanish left back SERGIO ESCUDERO.
RALF FAEHRMANN, who began his professional career with the Royal Blues and has returned on a free transfer from Eintracht Frankfurt, is replacing Germany World Cup goalkeeper MANUEL NEUER, who was sold to Bayern Munich for the hefty transfer fee of 18.0 million Euros, as first choice for Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen between the sticks this season in the Bundesliga.
SCHALKE 04 GELSENKIRCHEN
gk – Ralf FAEHRMANN ——————————— fr Eintracht Frankfurt
df – Christian FUCHS – Austria int’l ————— fr Vfl Bochum
df – Marco HOEGER ————————————– fr Alemannia Aachen
mf – Lewis HOLTBY – Germany int’l ————– fr FSV 05 Mainz
mf – Jan MORAVEK – Czech Rep int’l ———— fr 1.FC Kaiserslautern
mf – Jermaine JONES – United States int’l —– fr Blackburn Rovers (Eng)
fw – Ciprian MARICA – Romania int’l ———— fr Vfb Stuttgart
fw – Teemu PUKKI – Finland int’l —————— fr HJK Helsinki (Fin)
(Holtby and Moravek had been out on loan for the 2010-11 season; Jones had been out on loan since last January)
gk – Manuel NEUER – Germany int’l ————— to Bayern Munich
df – Christian PANDER – Germany int’l ———- to Hannover 96
df – Nicolas PLESTAN – France ———————- released
mf – Mohammad ALI KARIMI – Iran int’l ——- to FC Persepolis (Iran)
mf – Junmin HAO – China int’l ————————- to FC Shangdong Luneng (Chn)
mf – Anthony ANNAN – Ghana int’l —————- to Vitesse Arnhem (Hol)
mf – Ciprian DEAC – Romania int’l —————— to FC Rapid Bucharest (Rom)
mf – Vasileios PLIATSIKAS – Greece int’l ——- to MSV Duisburg
mf – Lukas SCHMITZ ————————————– to SV Werder Bremen
mf – DANILO AVELAR – Brazil ———————– to FC Karpaty Lviv (Ukr)
fw – Angelos CHARISTEAS – Greece int’l ——- to GFS Panetolikos Agrinio (Gre)
fw – EDU – Brazil ——————————————— to JK Beskitas Istanbul (Trk)
fw – Mario GAVRANOVIC – Switzerland int’l — to FSV 05 Mainz
(Danilo Avilar had been out on loan from FC Karpaty Lviv; Annan, Deac, Edu, Gavranovic, and Pliatsikas are all out on loan for the 2011-12 season)