08:30 29th July 2014
A look at the opposition in wait for City’s third pre-season friendly
STOKE CITY'S pre-season training camp in southern Germany draws to its conclusion later this evening as the Potters face their toughest test to date.
The Potters make the short journey across the Austrian border to take on Champions League hopefuls FC Schalke 04 in Kufstein (kick off 6.00pm CEST).
Undoubtedly City's toughest test of the trip, Jens Keller's side finished behind only European heavyweights Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga in what proved to be another good season for Die Königsblauen (The Royal Blues) last year.
A club with real history boasting seven German championships, five German Cups, one UEFA Super Cup and a UEFA Cup win, they were runners-up in the Bundesliga as recently as 2010.
Their last three campaigns have produced European football with Schalke reaching the Semi-Finals of the Champions League themselves in 2011, only to be knocked out by Manchester United.
The Quarter-Finals of the Europa League followed the season after, whilst their last campaign saw them back in the Champions League where they finished runners-up to Chelsea in the group stages before bowing out to eventual winners Real Madrid.
Former Real and AC Milan striker Klass-Jan Hunterlaar top scored last season with 14, whilst Jefferson Farfan netted a further 12 from midfield.
Ghanaian Kevin-Prince Boateng will also know a number of the Potters squad from his time at both Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth.
Hunterlaar, along with World Cup winners Benedict Howedes and Julian Draxler, are all on extended leave following this summer's tournament in Brazil.
Farfan, meanwhile, joins Leroy Sane in staying at base to overcome their respective injuries.
Four new players have come through the door this summer as Schalke look to close the gap between themselves and Bayern and Borussia at the top of the table.
Every area of the squad has been strengthened, with goalkeeper Fabian Giefer arriving from Fortuna Dusseldorf for free, defender Dennis Aogo signing for €2million from Hamburg, midfielder Sidney Sam making a €2.5 million switch from Bayer Leverkusen and striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting coming in from Mainz 05 for nothing.
Sam scored on his first start as Schalke began their pre-season with a convincing 5-0 win over TuS Hordel at the beginning of the month.
Max Meyer, Marco Höger and Donis Avdijaj all bagged braces in an even more comprehensive 7-0 triumph over an HSK XI, with the other goal coming from Chinedu Obasi.
Hansa Rostock have also been seen off comfortably, with goals from Sam, Jan Kirchhoff and Dren Hodja helping secure a routine 3-0 triumph, before they embarked on their own training camp out in the region.
The tour began with an 11-1 rout over amateur outfit Rosenheim last Wednesday, with the Obasi, Choup-Moting (2), Tranquillo Barnetta, Marco Hoger (2), Sead Kolasinac, Meyer (2) and Avdijaj all getting on the scoresheet.
There will plenty of confidence in the camp following their opening matches so it will undoubtedly be the trickiest task to date for Mark Hughes and his side as they conclude their stay in the picturesque surroundings of Reit im Winkl.
Follow coverage of City's game against Schalke here on stokecityfc.com at The Wall, with photos, a report and reaction to follow afterwards.