Schalke 04 - Stuttgart

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Cheers,

Dule

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Schalke had very good run of results with four straight wins (last one was in Munich, against Bayern 1-0), with no goal conceded. But, first came totally unexpected home defeat against Bayer 04, 1-2. After that, they traveled in M'gladbach to face relegation contender. Cautious performance through the entire game was punished in the last seconds. 1-0 for the hosts and Schalke’s hopes about Uefa Cup sank. 7th place with six points less from 5th Dortmund. Theoretically, it is reachable, but I think the players’ minds will be on summer vacation, more than on Europe chase. Three more games and their terrible season will be finished. It is expected that Mike Bueskins will set defense oriented tactic to face motivated visitors, with Kuranyi in front and Farfan and Sanchez on the sides. Marcelo Bordon (partial muscle tear) and the persistently unlucky Christian Pander, who injured a knee in the last-minute loss at M├Ânchengladbach, will both miss this one, with Pander out for the rest of the season. Only good fact for a home side is tradition. Their home record against Stuttgart is at any rate better than against any other side in the Bundesliga - 25 wins in 38 games and they haven’t lost at home for eleven years!

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Stuttgart is in great run with no defeat from last seven games, six win and a draw. In the last round, they smashed the league leaders Wolfsburg at home ground 4-1, with all four goals by Mario Gomez! This guy obviously has a problem. First he can’t score for a dozen games (for the national team, usually), then against the title contender writes a history and hits four times. Hope, he’ll keep it up, however. Stuttgart is 4th with four points less from Champions League spot (Hertha made an (un)expected win against FC Cologne on the road, previous night), but just five points from the first place! They’re focused and fully motivated. Boss Markus Babbel made a statement that their aim is and will remain to stay ahead of all those sides they're ahead of at the moment. It is true, Stuttgart can finish from first till sixth place, but I see Babbel’s talk just as a way of relaxing players before the decisive battles. After this game, they’ll host Cottbus. With six points, they’ll probable have a chance to win a title at the last round in Munchen against Bayern. Some problems with missing players, Ricardo Osorio, Serdar Tasci and Yildiray Bast├╝r, all injured or in post-operative recovery. Matthieu Delpierre returns from suspension. Additional problem is six players have four yellow cards and if they get the fifth, will miss one of the last two games.

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Will be very hard for home side to find any motive tonight. Will play just for fans and will try to avoid defeat. Definitelly, would be satisfied with 0-0. Visitors have their chance to conquer the country and with a performance, even little worse than against Wolfsburg, they can win this and ruin the tradition. Odds are very high and I go for away side with a small bet. 888sport offers 2.75. Away win.

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