Schalke are still without Ozan Kabak for Friday's visit of his former club VfB Stuttgart and towering striker Sasa Kalajdzic (kick-off: 8.30pm CET/7.30pm GMT/3.30pm ET).
Kabak is serving the fourth game of a five-match ban following his sending off in Schalke's 3-1 defeat to Werder Bremen on Matchday 2. The Royal Blues fell to a heavy 4-0 defeat to leaders RB Leipzig in their first assignment without their Turkish bedrock, before recording their first points of the campaign in the 1-1 draw with Union Berlin. Old habits die hard, though, with last weekend's 3-0 Revierderby loss to Borussia Dortmund extending the Ruhr district outfit's winless run to 21 Bundesliga matches. Coach Manuel Baum deployed Rabbi Matondo in attack at the Signal Iduna Park, but could be tempted to recall Benito Raman in the Welshman's stead. The former Augsburg tactician's post-match words of praise for homegrown midfielder Can Bozdogan - a second-half substitute in Dortmund - point to further changes, with a shift back to a four-man defence on the cards at the Veltins-Arena. Centre-half Malick Thiaw is the lead candidate to make way.
Promoted Stuttgart are seven points and 12 places better off than Schalke after five rounds of fixtures. Pellegrino Matarazzo's men lost their season opener in Freiburg, but are unbeaten in four since, most recently drawing 1-1 with Cologne. Kalajdzic provided the assist for Oriel Mangala against the Billy Goats, and has now had a direct hand in five of Stuttgart's 10 Bundesliga goals this term. He's succeeding in keeping the fit-again Nico Gonzalez out of the starting line-up, and will be quietly confident of adding to his three-goal tally against the division's most porous defence. There's always a chance Gonzalez could get the nod in a wider role - don't forget the Argentine was the club's 14-goal top scorer in Bundesliga 2 last season - with Silas Wamangituka struggling with a knee injury.
- Kabak scored three goals in 15 Bundesliga outings in a six-month stint in Stuttgart, before joining Schalke in June 2019.
- Schalke may be 21 league games without a win, but they have more victories against Stuttgart (38) than they do against any other Bundesliga club.
- Amine Harit has a goal and two assists in his two appearances against Stuttgart so far.
- Gonzalez scored his first ever Bundesliga goal against Schalke in when the teams met in December 2018.
- Stuttgart haven’t managed to beat the Royal Blues in any of their last eight encounters, taking just two of a possible 24 points from those games.
- However, VfB captain Gonzalo Castro has only lost two of 11 away matches in Stuttgart during his Bundesliga career (three wins, six draws).
Schalke: Rönnow - Ludewig, Sane, Nastastic, Oczipka - Mascarell (c), Bozdogan - Harit, Uth, Raman - Paciencia
Out: Fährmann (groin), Kabak (suspended), Serdar (thigh)
Coach: Manuel Baum
Stuttgart: Kobel - Stenzel, Karazor, Kempf - Gonzalez, Mangala, Endo, Coulibaly - Didavi, Castro (c) - Kalajdzic
Out: Anton (ankle), Awoudja (Achilles tendon), Mavropanos (knee), Mola (hip), Thommy (elbow)
Doubtful: Massimo (knee), Silas (knee)
Coach: Pellegrino Matarazzo