After a pre-season full of questions, the Royal Blues started their league campaign with an impressive win over Leipzig. DW's Felix Tamsut reports from Gelsenkirchen.
It looks like Schalke are on the right track. The Gelsenkirchen club decided a change was needed after finishing 10th last term, their worst Bundesliga position in six years. Relatively unknown coach Domenico Tedesco was appointed to lead the latest attempt at restoring football order to the Schalke part of the Ruhr area.
Tedesco, the Bundesliga's second youngest coach ever, has wasted no time in making his mark at the club, the appointment of goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann as the club's captain instead of fan favorite Benedikt Höwedes perhaps the boldest decision of them all.
Backing Tedesco beginning to pay off
Schalke's sporting director Christian Heidel, however, kept on backing the young coach. "I'm happy that the coach goes the way he thinks is right and not with the popular choices,” Heidel recently told "Sport1".
And he knew what he was talking about. Tedesco's work started to pay off on opening day when Leipzig came to town.
Winger Yevhen Konoplyanka, who looked set to leave the club after falling out with previous coach Markus Weinzierl, has turned into a game winner under Tedesco. Having scored two in the German Cup, Konoplyanka sealed a stunning win against Leipzig on opening day. Afterwards, he was all smiles, Leon Goretzka praised the head coach's communication skills and Höwedes was seen celebrating the club's win even though he spent the game on the bench. "[Höwedes] was very professional about my decision,” Tedesco said in the press conference afterwards.
Tedesco modestly put all the credit on his players when speaking to the press afterwards, but this was as much a victory for the coach as his team.
Schalke's back three managed to deal with Leipzig's attack rather efficiently. In attack, they were quick and smart and, for the most part, ruthless when it mattered. A plan was clear to see.
Young players involved
Even more impressive was this sweeping success of Leipzig was achieved with six players under the age of 23, with new acquisition Amine Harit and 18-year-old American Weston McKennie impressing. Thilo Kehrer, who only really became a first-team player last season, played like a veteran. Leipzig's Timo Werner was hardly in the game.
If the match against Leipzig is anything to go by, Tedesco really is the right man for Schalke. Beating Ralf Rangnick's gegenpressing project by giving Leipzig a taste of their own counterattacking medicine can be regarded as a statement as to what's to come from this Schalke side.
Although the season is only one game old and predictions are always boldly made about any club at this stage, things are looking up. Now there's just the small matter of keeping it there.