The home team, meanwhile, are likely to head into the match without a manager after sacking Christian Gross after only two months in charge following last weekend’s 5-1 defeat to Stuttgart.
Indeed, Schalke’s management appear to already be preparing for life in the German second tier next season, having sacked Gross with the club languishing nine points adrift of safety with only 11 matches of the season remaining after last Saturday’s hammering at the hands of Stuttgart.
In truth, the scoreline flattered the hosts a little, with Armine Harit squandering a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the opening minutes and Nabil Bentaleb missing a penalty when his side were 3-1 down and beginning to mount an unlikely comeback in the second half.
However, the manner in which Stuttgart took their commanding lead in the first half was simply unacceptable, with Deja vu occurring at Mercedes-Benz Arena when Wataru Endo scored two carbon-copy goals from corners by nodding in unmarked at the back post.
Sasa Kalajdzic, Philipp Klement and Daniel Didavi added gloss to Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side’s victory, which ultimately proved enough for Schalke to cut ties with Gross despite the 66-year-old only being hired in December.
Friday’s home match against Mainz, who lie only a place above them in the table, almost certainly represents last chance saloon for Schalke in terms of mounting one of the greatest escapes from relegation in European history.
Like Schalke, Mainz opted to change manager in the New Year in an attempt to survive relegation, with Bo Svensson having much more of a new manager bounce at the club he spent seven years at as a player.
However, Mainz were dealt a major setback in losing 1-0 at home to Augsburg last weekend, with the victors benefitting from a major goalkeeping error early in the game for the second successive week.
Robin Zentner inexplicably passed the ball straight to Florian Niederlechner, who had pounced on Niklas Lomb’s blunder against Leverkusen on the previous matchday, with the forward squaring the ball for Andre Hahn to tap into an empty net.
Mainz struggled to break down a disciplined Augsburg’s defence thereafter, but should find Schalke much more accommodating. If they can keep Harit and Matthew Hoppe quiet at the other end, Svensson’s side will have a great chance of climbing out of the bottom three.
Mainz 05 Bundesliga form: WLWDWL