Schalke 04: The Rise of the Royal Blues of Germany

Schalke 04It cannot be argued that Schalke 04 is not a major club, as this famous squad stands by its values of displaying a hard work ethic week in week out. Schalke is the second largest sports club in Germany with 100,000 members that attracts just fewer than 79,000 supporters to their famous Veltins Arena.

Schalke 04 always comes in the top 20 of the ‘Deloitte Football Money League’ in terms of annual revenue, generating a whopping €174.5 million in 2012. Some football fans must wonder how Die Königsblauen has not won the German Bundesliga, however the club itself has won a few major honors.

This account is going to explore some of Schalke’s most highlighted events over their illustrious history and examine their season so far, which may have a major impact on their next Bundesliga season.

In 1934, Schalke’s first German title arrived after beating favorites Nuremberg with the score of 2-1. This was the kick-start Schalke 04 needed as the following year they successfully defended their title against VfB Stuttgart in an entertaining 6-4 win.

Die Knappen showed their dominance in this era by acquiring this trophy again in 1937, 1939, 1940, and 1942. Three of the national finals that Schalke 04 were involved in were unbelievably against Austrian teams: Admira Vienna, Rapid Vienna, and First Vienna, which played in Germany’s Gauliga Ostmark after Austria’s incorporation into the Reich through the 1938 Anschluss.

Between the years of 1933 and 1945, Schalke won 162 out of 189 in their Gauliga Ostmark matches, losing only 6 and drawing 21 times. In this period, Schalke showed their scoring governance as they accumulated 924 goals and conceded only 145.

In the years of 1935 to 1939, Schalke did not lose a single league match to any opponent they faced. These achievements caught the eye of many, and this led them to be held up for propaganda reasons by the Nazi regime, as an example of ‘Neue Deutschland’ (New Germany). This was surprising due to many Schalke players descending from Polish immigrants, including their most influential players, Fritz Szepan and Ernst Kuzorra.

Schalke 04When Schalke entered the German Bundesliga in 1963, they have somewhat been inconsistent with their finishes in the league. During the first few years of the German Bundesliga, Schalke found it very hard to adjust to the new league.

For example, in 1965, they just missed out on relegation, only through the league increasing to eighteen teams. A number of finishes at the lower end of the league table followed after, before development started in 1972 as they acquired a second place finish to Bayern München. In the same season, Schalke won the German Cup for the second time in its history.

When looking at Schalke more recently however, they have managed to finally get some consistency in regards to winning trophies and staying towards to upper ends of the league. In 1997, they won their most coveted trophy, the UEFA Cup, beating Inter Milan on penalties.

Since this trophy, Schalke 04 has won the DFB Pokal three times, the Premiere League Cup in 2005, and the German Super Cup in 2011. However, they still have not managed to win the German Bundesliga.

When assessing Schalke’s season so far, they have had a somewhat rocky campaign as they decided to relieve Huub Stevens of his duties and appoint Jens Keller as their new head coach. Schalke has given their fans something to brag about in the Ruhr though, as they managed to gain the double over their great rivals Borussia Dortmund, beating them 2-1 on both games.

Also defeating Arsenal 2-0 away in the UEFA Champions League, that could be argued to be Schalke’s best performance of the season, as they simply played ‘The Gunners’ off the park. There have been some signs of Schalke’s potential to kick on this season, but beating Galatasaray SK was a step too far as their squad was looking bare.

Bayern Munich 4-0 Schalke 04They have also struggled with injuries this year, and this has been evident in some of their performances, most notably away at Bayern München when they were defeated 4-0. Since that defeat however, they have managed to gain some form and rise up the league by beating Fortuna Düsseldorf, VfL Wolfsburg, Borussia Dortmund, 1899 Hoffenheim, and most recently SV Werder Bremen.

This form has led them to overlap Eintracht Frankfurt in fourth place for that UEFA Champions League spot. They sit nicely with 45 points and are now looking to be favorites to claim this spot. They could even overhaul Bayer Leverkusen, as they are only four points behind, but this will be tough due to Bayer Leverkusen’s plus fifteen goal difference.

The run in for Schalke is hard, and they invite Bayer Leverkusen to the Veltins Arena next and this is simply a must win game for ‘The Royal Blues.’ Then it’s off to the founding father’s Eintracht Frankfurt, who will be looking to get back into the chase for that fourth spot, so Schalke need to be focused for the next two games as their UEFA Champions League spot could slip out of their hands.

But with five games left, they have a great opportunity to confirm UEFA Champions League football next season, and if they gain this, it may get Jens Keller a contract to take over permanently.

But this is Schalke, and anything can happen. Will Schalke 04 ever go back to playing their famous ‘Schalker Kriesel’ way of the 1920s? Who knows?! What will be, will be.

Written by James Williams