Caligiuri’s lock presents Tedesco with great mystery
Daniel Caligiuri will not be available against his ex-club SC Freiburg on Saturday because of a yellow bar. This poses a mystery for Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco – the mystery of a replacement for the right defender. The situation is quite tricky.
January 2018, 19th matchday. Daniel Caligiuri sees yellow in the 1-3 defeat in Leipzig, it is already the fourth in the season for him. A yellow barrier seems only a matter of time. But look here: The half-Italian, who says he “likes to work on” his opponents, actually manages to manage the rest of the season without further warning. He doesn’t miss a single game in the following, and contributes three goals and seven templates to the runners-up championship.
A year later things look different. Caligiuri picked up his fifth yellow card last Saturday at 1:3 in Munich – so he is missing in the home game on Saturday against SC Freiburg. Of all things, you have to say in this case, because firstly it is his ex-club, secondly the 31-year-old has always been particularly accurate against his former clubs. He has already scored four goals against Freiburg and five against VfL Wolfsburg, two of them for the start of the second half of the 2-1 home win.
His retirement poses a big mystery for coach Domenico Tedesco. The search for a replacement for the right defender is tricky. A one-to-one replacement is not an option, especially as Alessandro Schöpf is out of the question due to his ligament rupture. Theoretically, Sascha Riether (he also played for SC Freiburg) could fill the gap, but the 35-year-old only plays a role as a powerful training partner for Schalke. This season he was only a member of the matchday squad once – shortly before Christmas when he won 3-1 in Stuttgart.
Tedesco’s options: Three-legged chain without substitutes
It would be conceivable to switch to a three-legged chain, especially as Matija Nastasic has resumed team training after his calf problems and is likely to be available. He could form a team with Salif Sané and Jeffrey Bruma. The problem is that these are the only three true centre-backs in Tedesco’s team, so the coach would have no alternative on the bench.
Unless Benjamin Stambouli is at least available again as a reservist. The Schalker vice-captain has long proved his worth as a right-hand man in the three-man defensive chain, but he was not back at the start of preparations for the Freiburg game due to his fracture of the cheekbone. Theoretically, Tedesco could also try to install his all-purpose Weston McKennie in the back row.