Category Archives: Raul

Bundesliga Matchday 33 Review – Schalke and Gladbach prepare for departures

It was an emotional weekend in the Bundesliga, not because of any spectacular results, but more to do with departures. The two clubs occupying third and fourth, Schalke and Gladbach, are coming to terms with losing players next season.

Whilst Gladbach will be saying ‘auf wiedersehen’ to Roman Neustadter, Dante and Marco Reus, Schalke have to bid farewell to Raul, a man who’s made quite an impression in his two years in Gelsenkirchen.

Signing a month after his 33rd birthday, Felix Magath, the man who brought him over to Gelsenkirchen, has called him the most influential foreigner to play in Germany. This is an exaggeration but you can understand where the-now Wolfsburg coach is coming from.

Raul has only missed one game in the Bundesliga since joining Schalke. During that time, he’s amassed 28 goals along with 11 assists. Add to that the Bundesliga Goal of the Year in 2011 (an extraordinary chip over Michael Rensing) and it is little wonder the Spaniard was overcome with emotion such was the send off he was given after Schalke’s victory over Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Teammates bowed to the Spaniard when celebrating his obligatory goal against Hertha. That in itself isn’t much of an achievement such has been the form of Otto Rehhagel’s side. Schalke’s 4-0 victory means they will go straight into the Champions League group stages – without Raul however. Saturday’s win pushed them out of reach of fourth placed Borussia Mönchengladbach. They were held to a goalless draw at home by Augsburg.

Gladbach have somewhat limped over the line in securing a place in the 4th Round Qualifying of the Champions League in 2012-2013. That said Lucien Favre’s side deserve credit for their performance over the course of the season, going from relegation play-off survivors to Champions League qualifiers. The problem for Gladbach is that three key players who helped to make this possible depart this summer.

Roman Neustadter, Dante and Marco Reus have all played their final game for the Foals at Borussia Park. They’ll move to the three sides above them in the table. Neustadter’s departure to Schalke has gone slightly under the radar, a bit like the player himself, whose contribution has been underestimated.

Dante and Reus meanwhile are off to Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Dante has been part of the second best defence in the Bundesliga this season whilst Reus is the most high profile departure. With 16 goals and 11 assists, he’s certainly one of the players of the season in the Bundesliga. It’s not too surprising that Dortmund were so keen to get a former trainee of theirs back at the club.

At Gladbach though will come Lucien Favre’s greatest test. It would be most impressive if he can build a side which can compete in the Champions League and most importantly in the Bundesliga.

Schalke are better equipped to deal with the departure of Raul than Gladbach with their leavers. Nevertheless, it’s overlooked that last season they finished 13th in the Bundesliga, only four points ahead of Gladbach in the Relegation Play-Off position. The Royal Blues excellent run to the Champions League Semi Finals and their DFB-Pokal win helped erase memories of the league campaign though.

Memories of Raul will arguably remain for longer although it’s odd to see that Schalke have decided to retire his shirt number for an indefinite period, after all he’s only been there two years. Still, Schalke must move on.

They have the squad to cope with Raul’s departure whilst Gladbach are going to have to rebuild. It would be a shame from a neutral perspective to see the Foals flutter away into the ether after the great work done by Lucien Favre so far.

But for now, both clubs can be thankful for what Reus, Dante, Neustadter and Raul have given to Borussia Mönchengladbach and Schalke respectively.

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Matchday 33 Results:

Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Hannover

Bayern Munich 2-0 Stuttgart

Freiburg 4-1 Cologne

Gladbach 0-0 Augsburg

Hamburg 0-0 Mainz

Hoffenheim 2-3 Nuremberg

Kaiserslautern 2-5 Borussia Dortmund

Schalke 4-0 Hertha Berlin

Wolfsburg 3-1 Werder Bremen

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* PTS*
1 Borussia Dortmund 33 24 6 3 76:25 +51 78 CL*
2 FC Bayern Munich 33 22 4 7 73:21 +52 70 CL*
3 FC Schalke 04 33 19 4 10 71:42 +29 61 CL*
4 Borussia Mönchengladbach 33 16 9 8 46:24 +22 57 CL* Qual.
5 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 33 14 9 10 48:43 +5 51 EL*
6 VfB Stuttgart 33 14 8 11 60:44 +16 50 EL* Qual.
7 Hannover 96 33 11 12 10 39:44 -5 45 EL* Qual.
8 VfL Wolfsburg 33 13 5 15 45:57 -12 44
9 SV Werder Bremen 33 11 9 13 47:55 -8 42
10 1. FC Nuremberg 33 12 6 15 37:45 -8 42
11 1899 Hoffenheim 33 10 11 12 40:44 -4 41
12 SC Freiburg 33 10 10 13 45:57 -12 40
13 1. FSV Mainz 05 33 9 12 12 47:48 -1 39
14 Hamburger SV 33 8 12 13 35:56 -21 36
15 FC Augsburg 33 7 14 12 35:49 -14 35
16 1. FC Köln 33 8 6 19 38:71 -33 30 Play-offs
17 Hertha BSC Berlin 33 6 10 17 35:63 -28 28 Relegation
18 1. FC Kaiserslautern 33 4 11 18 23:52 -29 23 Relegation

Table thanks to Official Bundesliga Website

This article was originally written for Football Fancast by Archie Rhind-Tutt and is reproduced with their kind permission. Please follow this link for the original article. http://www.footballfancast.com/2012/04/football-blogs/bundesliga-review-schalke-and-gladbach-prepare-for-departures

When Spanish stardust arrived in Gelsenkirchen

After it was announced Raul would not extend his contract at Schalke after the end of the current season, Diana Yeow looks back at the time when Raul first arrived at the club.

Raul at the media conference a week ago to announce that he will not extend his current contract with Shalke. He will leave at the end of the season.

It was striking reading what Schalke chairman Clemens Tönnies said at the media conference. Tönnies has always been a big fan of Raul, and played a part in pulling off one of the biggest coups in the club’s transfer history back in July 2010. He paid a glowing tribute to the Spaniard and said that the doors at the club will always remain open to him. And it was done, speaking with emotion.

For those wanting to be cynical, what happened a week ago at Schalke was not a time to be (or unless it is about Raul’s shirt number being apparently retired for an indefinite period of time). Not often someone in Clemens Tönnies’s position will eulogise about someone who will have played at the club for two seasons when the current Bundesliga season ends. But Raul’s announcement also got me even (with my VfB Stuttgart loyalties) walking down memory lane of the time when he did arrived at Schalke.

It was the summer of 2010, post-World Cup and Jose Mourinho had become coach of Real Madrid. There were several arrivals into the club with likes of Mesut Özil, who went to the Spanish capital on the back of his performances for the German national team in the World Cup in South Africa. Then came those Mourinho had to ship off. It soon became clear the man who has always been synonymous with Real Madrid was on that list, Raul. When Florentino Perez returned to the club as president for the second time, there were already questions whether he and Raul could get along given the relationship between the two after Perez’s first stint as club president. Raul did announce his departure from the club where he had accomplished quite a lot, the La Liga titles, the Champions League triumphs, though he didn’t said where he is heading next though.

But over in Germany, rumours were growing of the possiblity of Raul arriving at Schalke. As much as I was beginning to get excited at the idea that someone of Raul’s stature could be coming to the Bundesliga, I also tried not to get my hopes too high, given of the rumours of of a move to the Premier League in England. The rumours of Raul coming to Schalke began after the club had shipped Kevin Kuranyi off to play in Russia, thus leaving a room for a striker to come in. There were factors suggested a Raul move to Schalke. Christoph Metzelder had returned back to Germany and joined Schalke after his time at Real Madrid. Not only that, Schalke were due to be playing in the Champions League.

Then along came photos of Raul’s wife and his sons being spotted in Düsseldorf. That raised the hopes in Germany. For my generation, Raul had always been a one-club man. He could have chosen where the money is and not come to play in Germany. But that is just the man who just wants to play football, and enjoy playing it.

There was much pomp and pageantry when Raul was officially unveiled; such was the stature of the Spaniard. For the Bundesliga, this was a statement of the increasing allure of the league and for Schalke, it was quite a transfer coup by their standards. It was Christoph Metzelder, who had been Raul’s team-mate at Real Madrid which swung the deal Schalke’s way, and that was despite the then-Schalke coach Felix Magath who also played a part in the transfer. But it was already clear at that time who was really excited by the presence of Raul at the club. Club chairman Clemens Tönnies.

Schalke chairman Clemens Toennies, he is quite a big fan of Raul.

I personally nearly got choked up when Raul talked about his greatest moments at Schalke last Thursday. Schalke’s DFB-Pokal win last season was significant for him given he had never won the domestic cup with Real Madrid, but it was the mention of when he went to celebrate with the fans after Schalke had beaten Inter in the Champions League last season which gave me the goosebumps. That is my personal favourite Raul moment at Schalke. Not any of the goals he had scored, but that.

As much as I am sad that Raul will not be extending his current contract with Schalke, I am also comforting myself that I am privileged in the knowledge that someone like Raul did come to play in the Bundesliga where his professionalism has rubbed off on the young upstarts at the club like Julian Draxler. For all the stardust he has brought to German football, he has always been down-to-earth and humble. You cannot say that often in football these days.

Raul Of The Rovers

OK, so this comparison is a little loose but stay with me. I watched Hertha Berlin versus Schalke thinking about how Teemu Pukki’s story seemed like it was out of Roy of the Rovers. This phrase ‘out of Roy of the Rovers’ is usually linked to anything that you think is pretty special, unusual…or just damn right spectacular. Because in Roy of the Rovers, nothing was out of bounds in terms of bending the rules of what should be possible. For those of you not familiar with Roy of the Rovers, here is a very brief overview. Roy of the Rovers was a very long running English football comic which mainly followed the fortunes of fictional striker Roy Race. Roy was a player for an awfully long time, and led his team Melchester Rovers to no less than 33 titles. As a fictional character Roy played unbelievably for around 40-years (partly as player manager), scored more goals than anyone else, won more titles than anyone else…he was something special, even if he was the work of someone’s imagination.

I was a big reader of Roy’s exploits as a child, in-fact it was about the only thing that I did like reading. I have to thank this comic a little for my love of the football soap opera, because in Roy of the Rovers the story-lines got pretty unbelievable (sound familiar to modern football?). I’m sure that had it continued, Roy of the Rovers would have been telling tales of (alleged) corruption at FIFA, goal line technology and Russian oligarchs, way before they happened in real life. Needless to say, there were some pretty incredible things that happened at Melchester Rovers, but it didn’t always centre around Roy. At the tale end of the life of the comic, Roy’s boy Rocky had signed pro-terms and had been awarded his Dad’s number nine shirt. And this blond haired boy Rocky, somewhat reminded me of young Schalke striker Teemu Pukki. Rocky was not the finished article, but he played with that kind of youthful daring that is always delightful to watch, and that is what I like about Teemu Pukki.

Pukki’s story has been told over and over again this season, about how he scored against Schalke three times in the Europa League qualifying round and then was swiftly snapped up by the Royal Blues, like in some kind of football fairytale. So befitting this fairytale, his start for his new club has been pretty good as well. Three goals in seven Bundesliga games is not bad, and at that rate he would be scoring almost 15 goals a season. Pukki has proved that he certainly has pace, great movement and a very good eye for goal. His goals so far have been a combination of running onto through balls and slotting the ball away, or doing like he did against Hertha, and blasting one in from range.

The omens are certainly good for young Pukki because just look at the opportunity he has for the best type of schooling. At 21-years old he has the opportunity to work with one of the hottest strikers in European football at the moment in Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and the man who really should take the crown of football’s real Roy of the Rovers…Raul Gonzalez Blanco.

OK, so Raul couldn’t quite hit the heights of Roy with a mere 18 titles, but as the top goal scorer for Real Madrid and the all-time top scorer in the Champions League, it isn’t a bad shout. In fact I’d go as far as saying that if Raul bleached his hair, he would be a deadringer for Melchester’s favourite son. So if a little of Raul’s magic rubs off on Pukki, then there is a chance that he could become a player with a big part in this young Schalke side that have a bright future ahead of them.

With all this talk of football and comic book stories, it is right to point out that they do sometimes cross over. But thankfully for Schalke, unlike Melchester Rovers, there have been no earthquakes at the Veltins Arena, no shootings in the managers office and no members of Spandau Ballet in the starting line-up…but unfortunately for Schalke they also haven’t had the titles of Melchester Rovers either. I don’t think that it will happen in the playing time of Raul of the Rovers, but perhaps his legacy might help it to become a reality.

By Jon Hartley