-- PROFILE: PAOK’s Opponent...Schalke --
AGONAsport.com breaks down PAOK’s opponent, Schalke, in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.
Background: Schalke was formed in 1904 and is based out of Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Their home ground is the Veltins-Arena which seats 62,200 people. The team’s colors are blue and white. They are considered one of the powerhouses of German Football, having won 1 UEFA Cup, 7 German League Titles, 5 German Cups, 1 German League Cup, and 1 German Super Cup.
How They Got Here: Schalke was granted an automatic place in this year’s UEFA Europa League Group Stages thanks to their 5th place finish in last year's German Bundesliga. They claimed first place in their group with 15 points ahead of Krasnodar, Salzburg, and Nice. The German club recorded five wins and only one loss from six games with their only defeat coming in Austria against Salzburg (2-0).
League Standings: Last year Schlake finished in 5th place in the German Bundesliga and they currently sit in 10th place in this year’s standings (5-2-7) with 17 points.
Coach: Markus Weinzierl
Strengths: Without a doubt Schalke’s strength is their front line. They create their attacks from the wings housing quick, talented players in those positions. The Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and captain Benedikt Höwedes are the big names for Schalke
Weaknesses: Schalke’s roster consists of many young players which lack experience in these type of games. Additionally, their backline can be penetrated by PAOK’s offense as Schalke’s defense lacks speed.
Prior History with PAOK: The two teams have met on nice occasions, two wins for PAOK, three wins for Schalke, and four draws. Most recently the two met in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League Playoff Qualifying Round where Schalke prevailed 4-3 on aggregate. PAOK got the favorable result in Germany, 1-1 draw, but in Thessaloniki the German side came out victorious 2-3 to earn a place in the competition's group stages. In the return leg, PAOK played in an empty Toumba Stadium due to a ban imposed by UEFA.
Fixtures: PAOK will host Schalke on February 16th at the Toumba Stadium for the first leg and the return fixture will be held one week later in Germany.