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May 25, 2020

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Schalke crisis deepens with Augsburg loss

Schalke 04 slumped to a shock 0-3 home loss to relegation-threatened Augsburg yesterday, its fourth defeat in five games dropping the team to eighth place in the German Bundesliga.

Augsburg’s Eduard Loewen curled in a sensational free kick from 23 meters in the sixth minute and Nigerian winger Noah Sarenren Bazee slotted home in the 76th before Sergio Cordova added the third in stoppage time.

Schalke struggled to launch decent attacks and a first-half chance which fell to Rabbi Matondo was the closest it came to scoring.

Despite having 67 percent possession, the Royal Blues managed only two shots on target in the match.

The defeat piled more pressure on coach David Wagner, whose team has scored only two goals in its last nine games.

The Bundesliga became the first major sports league to resume last week, with no fans in attendance, after being suspended for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schalke, now without a win in nine league games, slipped down to eighth place on 37 points while Augsburg’s first victory after four straight losses lifted it to 12th on 30, seven above the relegation playoff spot.

Augsburg hosts bottom side Paderborn on Wednesday, the same day Schalke visits struggler Fortuna Duesseldorf, which occupies the relegation playoff spot.

Bayern Munich leads the standings with 61 points, four ahead of Borussia Dortmund whom it faces tomorrow.

Dortmund, however, is waiting on the fitness of defensive chief Mats Hummels for the top-of-the-table showdown.

The 2014 World Cup winner aggravated his Achilles tendon in Saturday’s 2-0 win at VfL Wolfsburg which kept second-placed Dortmund four points behind Bayern, which is chasing an eighth straight league title.

Hummels came off at half-time on Saturday, but Dortmund still hopes he can lead the host’s defense against his former club Bayern.

“Mats has a problem with his Achilles tendon and we hope he can play on Tuesday,” said Dortmund sports director Michael Zorc.

“He has had the problem for a while.”

Hummels was treated at Dortmund’s training ground yesterday and if he is not fit, Emre Can, who replaced Hummels in Wolfsburg, will deputize against Bayern.

In the Munich squad, there are question marks over midfielder Thiago Alcantara and defender Jerome Boateng.

Alcantara sat out Saturday’s 5-2 thrashing of Eintracht Frankfurt in Munich with a groin strain,.

Boateng came off late in the second-half with a muscular knock.

Bayern hammered Dortmund 4-0 at the Allianz Arena in Munich when the teams last met in November.

Zorc, meanwhile, confirmed before Saturday’s game that Mario Goetze will leave once his second spell at the club ends in the summer.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Borussia Moenchengladbach was silently cheered on by 13,000 plastic cutout fans in the stands, but couldn’t help slumping against Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 at home.

Two goals from Kai Havertz, the second a penalty confirmed by VAR, and another from Sven Bender lifted Leverkusen above Gladbach into fourth place, Germany’s last to qualify for the UEFA Champions League — assuming Leipzig beats Mainz later yesterday.


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