Schalke v RB Leipzig – VELTINS-Arena at 17:30 GMT live at BT Sport
David Wagner was described as a “miracle worker” for his role in guiding underdogs Huddersfield to the Premier League, consolidating the Terriers in the top-flight before eventually departing when progress began to stall.
The former Dortmund coach took time off before eventually accepting an offer from perennial underperformers Schalke. Few fancied the Royal Blues to embark on an immediate upturn in fortunes but Wagner has galvanised the club almost instantaneously and the Gelsenkirchen group are flying high this season.
Last term, Schalke flirted with relegation but coming into this weekend, the Royal Blues are perched inside the top-six and only six points shy of Champions League qualification. Wagner’s achievement has been to turn S04 from fallen giants to challengers while working largely with the same group of players.
Wagner sensed a loss of confidence in the squad. He had the players sit down in pre-season and watch footage of a defeat to Bayern from the previous season, highlighting moments when Schalke had played the ball long out of their own half, reminding them they had the skills to pass and carry instead.
Schalke underrated on Saturday?
A 5-0 hammering at Bayern Munich may have knocked belief in the Royal Blues camp again with consecutive draws following against Hertha Berlin, Paderborn and Mainz, but Schalke remain on the right road having been defeated just four times in 22 Bundesliga battles under their current management (W9-D9-L4).
Bayern are the only visitors to the Veltins Arena to depart with maximum points – both Dortmund and Gladbach failed to even score here when collecting a solitary point between them – and underrated Schalke will be keen to test their progress against title challengers RB Leipzig on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts can be backed at 2.12 with a +0.50 Asian Handicap start, an appealing play considering Leipzig are involved in Champions League action at Tottenham on Wednesday night and have largely stuttered through their 2020 league fixtures, surrendering their place at the top of the table in the process.
Leipzig have won once in six away days at teams starting the weekend in 10th or above, and have also registered victories in only one of eight encounters with teams in seventh or above. Extend that list further and Die Rotten Bullen boast three victories in 12 against the top-10 at any venue in league action.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Schalke +0.50 at 2.120
Preview by: @MarkOHaire