Schalke’s hopes of earning a massive Rivierderby win evaporated quickly on Saturday at Signal Iduna Park with rivals Borussia Dortmund rolling to a lopsided 4-0 victory.
Weston McKennie was arguably Schalke’s best performer in the defeat, putting in plenty of work despite offering little on the offensive side of the field. The 21-year-old midfielder completed 81% of his passes, won five duels, and successfully made three tackles, but also mis-hit several key passes on Schalke fast breaks, which could’ve resulted in goalscoring opportunities.
Saturday may have brought a new vibe with no fans allowed at the stadium, but McKennie admitted the club’s overall performances still have to be better despite the new changes.
“It’s hard to take,” McKennie said in an interview for the club’s website. “You never want to lose a game, especially a derby. To lose 4-0 is especially disappointing. It was different today without the fans. We need to adapt to these new conditions. We will analyse the game and hopefully do better next week. Dortmund have a talented team.”
“Sometimes you have games in which you struggle to put tackles in and today was one of those days. They played well and got in behind us regularly. We need to improve and get ourselves out of this bad situation. We won’t get nervous in our fight for the Europa League. Our performances have to improve though.”
Schalke’s 2020 woes are nothing new to David Wagner and the squad, who have only one league win to date (Jan. 17th, 2-0 vs. Borussia Monchengladbach). Not only has the Gelsenkirchen side struggled to pick up victories, but they’ve failed to score more than one goal in a match since their January win.
Defensively they’ve been just as poor, conceding 19 goals in six league matches since the start of 2020. McKennie isn’t to blame for the defensive issues at Schalke, but he can help start a positive run of form starting with next weekend’s home date against Augsburg.
Schalke’s loss to Dortmund ousted them from the top six, seeing Wolfsburg move up into sixth place following their road win over Augsburg on Saturday. McKennie has been a crucial part of the squad over the last two years and will need to lead by example with only two matches remaining against current top-six sides.
If Schalke wants to get back to European Football for next season, the winning has to start at VELTINS-Arena in six days time.