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Aug 7, 2022 at 4.30pm UK at RheinEnergieStadion
FC Koln
3 - 1
Kilian (49'), Kainz (62'), Ljubicic (80')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Bulter (76')
Brunner (51')
Drexler (35')

Preview: FC Koln vs. Schalke 04 - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: FC Koln vs. Schalke 04 - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Bundesliga clash between FC Koln and Schalke 04, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Schalke 04's first game back in the Bundesliga after a year-long absence sees them face off against European contenders FC Koln at the RheinEnergieSTADION on Sunday afternoon.

The visitors pipped Werder Bremen to the 2. Bundesliga title last term to earn promotion as champions, while their hosts managed to nab a spot in the Europa Conference League.

Match preview

Steffen Baumgart's first season at the Koln helm can only be described as a monumental success. After 14th and 16th-placed finishes in the Bundesliga following their 2019 promotion, the Billy Goats will test their mettle in Europe after finishing seventh last term.

Baumgart's men were only three points behind Freiburg for a Europa League place come the end of the campaign and will take on either Fehervar or Petrocub Hincesti for their spot in the group stage of the Europa Conference League, but their season has already kicked off on a sour note.

Second-tier side SSV Jahn Regensburg awaited Koln's arrival for the first round of the DFB-Pokal last weekend, and while the Billy Goats managed to recover from a 2-0 deficit to level the scores at 2-2 and force penalties, they were ultimately knocked out.

An early cup exit to a lower-ranked team is a surefire way to deplete the morale, but Baumgart at least has more time to prioritise his side's Bundesliga and European exploits, and facing a newly-promoted side of Schalke's calibre will hardly be a cakewalk.

Schalke and Werder Bremen battling in the doldrums of the second tier would normally only make sense in an alternate universe, but both revered German clubs are back in the big time for 2022-23, and it was the former who emerged as top dogs with the trophy in the cabinet.

The warning signs emerged for Schalke during the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and one cannot forget the scenes of chaos from fans once their relegation to the 2. Bundesliga was confirmed, but Die Knappen are now back where they belong.

Bremer SV were Schalke's opponents in the first round of the DFB-Pokal last week, and Frank Kramer's side put on a five-star showing in a 5-0 win to advance to round two, as Dominick Drexler bagged a brace alongside strikes from Marcin Kaminski and Rodrigo Zalazar, as well as an own goal from Sebastian Kmiec.

Borussia Monchengladbach, Wolfsburg and Union Berlin will continue the baptism of fire for Schalke in the coming weeks, and the visitors enter the opening day seeking to avoid a fourth consecutive loss against Koln, who have not lost at home to Die Knappen since 2016.

FC Koln form (all competitions):
  • L

Schalke 04 form (all competitions):
  • W

Team News

Koln witnessed striker Anthony Modeste come off with a back problem in the DFB-Pokal loss to Jahn Regensburg, but the 20-goal Frenchman is expected to recover in time to lead the line here.

Timo Hubers has suffered a setback in his recovery from an injury sustained in the cup and may not be ready for the opening day, while Mark Uth was able to recover from an adductor issue in time for that defeat.

Fellow forwards Dimitrios Limnios and Florian Dietz will not play any part for the hosts either, so Modeste ought to be partnered by new signing Sargis Adamyan up top on Sunday.

As far as Schalke are concerned, Kramer did not pick up any fresh injury concerns in the DFB-Pokal thumping of Bremer, and only veteran striker Simon Terrode could miss out with a troublesome muscular issue.

Captain Danny Latza was not available last weekend due to a thigh problem but should be ready to make his comeback here, which would give Kramer a true selection headache in the middle.

Alex Kral earned rave reviews for his performance against Bremer and will be in no position to lose his starting place, so Kramer may very well opt to keep Latza in reserve for the time being.

FC Koln possible starting lineup:
Horn; Schmitz, Kilian, Chabot, Hector; Ljubicic, Skhiri, Kainz; Uth; Modeste, Adamyan

Schalke 04 possible starting lineup:
Schwolow; Brunner, Yoshida, Kaminski, Ouwejan; Kral; Drexler, Krauss, Zalazar, Mohr; Polter

We say: FC Koln 2-1 Schalke 04

Putting five goals past a fifth-tier side is hardly a good indication as to how well Schalke will fare back in the Bundesliga, but Koln's confidence will have been rocked by their own DFB-Pokal exit.

The injuries to Baumgart's attacking options are not letting up either, but we still have faith in a Modeste-led Billy Goats side to shade a close contest in front of their own fans.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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