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What have Manuel Neuer, Raul, Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil, Leroy Sane and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar all got in common? Each of them has played with Schalke (most of them in the last decade too) so that makes it harder to believe that the Gelsenkirchen club lie rock bottom of the Bundesliga table at present, with just nine points from 23 games this season.
Heading into Friday’s clash with Mainz, who sit second from bottom and eight points ahead of Schalke, The Royal Blues are on a nine games winless run – a streak which has seen them score just four goals and concede 23 goals. Overall this season, their defensive record is by far the worst in the league with 61 goals against their name.
The one, and perhaps only, glimmer of hope they have heading into tonight’s must-win clash is their record in this corresponding fixture. In each of the last six seasons, Schalke have beaten Mainz when they’ve come to town but on a whole, they were performing to a much higher level than they are now.
Friday 19:30 – Schalke v Mainz
BT Sport 2
As for Mainz, they too have been underperforming when you look at previous seasons, but three wins in their last six games has given them a realistic chance of survival. Positive results against Leverkusen and Monchengladbach were followed by a home defeat to 13th place Augsburg and that will give the hosts hope that they can come out on top tonight.
When the sides met back in November, they played out a 2-2 draw, in which Mainz scored two penalties, and that was a game in which Schalke largely dominated. So, as the betting suggests, this is a hard game to call but given their history in this fixture -as well as knowing the importance of a victory – Schalke are just given the nod to get the job done.
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If you’ve been following the Championship lately, then you’ll be well aware of the flying run that Cardiff City are on since Mick McCarthy took over at the helm. At the turn of the year, The Bluebirds looked certain to finish in the bottom half of the table, having lost their sixth game on the trot. Then, in came McCarthy and the former Ireland manager has transformed the club’s form in no uncertain manner.
Tuesday night’s 4-0 hammering of Derby County – the Rams’ worst defeat under Wayne Rooney – meant that Cardiff City are now on a 10 games unbeaten run under their new gaffer, taking 24 points from a possible 30 points since he took over. And they seem to be getting better with every game too.
On Friday, they head to the John Smith’s Stadium, a venue where they’re unbeaten in their last six visits and that includes a 3-0 victory last season. The sides have already met during this campaign, when Cardiff thumped The Terriers 3-0 in early December, so Friday’s match-up doesn’t bode well for Carlos Corberan’s side. And that’s before you even delve into their recent form.
Friday 19:45 – Huddersfield Town v Cardiff City
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Football
Heading into this game, they have only won one of their last 13 matches, and that includes four home defeats. Comprehensive losses to Derby County and Preston North End were followed by a lacklustre 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham City on Tuesday night, when they only created three chances in the entire match.
They’ve conceded in each of their last 15 games, eight of which were on home soil, and they’re facing a Cardiff City side which have scored at least two goals in eight of their last 10 matches. Everything about this Championship clash suggests another Cardiff City win and while cases can be made for backing Both Teams To Score or for the visitors to Win To Nil, a straight forward Cardiff City victory looks too good to turn down.
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