FC Schalke 04 have a fight on their hands to maintain their recent record of qualifying for the knockout rounds and must defeat NK Maribor to stand a chance of finishing second.
Article top media content
FC Schalke 04 have lost ground in the race for Group G's qualifying places and know they have to beat NK Maribor in their final fixture to keep their hopes alive.
• The 5-0 home defeat by section winners Chelsea FC last time out has left Schalke third, one place and two points behind Sporting Clube de Portugal. The German club must win and hope Sporting lose at Stamford Bridge to advance to the knockout stages for the third season running.
• The 30 September fixture between these sides ended 1-1, Maribor leading through Damjan Bohar before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar struck Schalke's second-half equaliser.
• The Slovenian side are out of the UEFA Champions League but will finish third, at Schalke's expense, with a victory. Anything less would leave them fourth, the same as their only previous group stage appearance in 1999/2000.
• Maribor have not won any of their five European encounters with German opponents. Apart from the 30 September meeting they scored in only one: a 2-1 defeat at Borussia Dortmund in the 1993/94 UEFA Cup second round. They played out 0-0 draws in the home leg and also at Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the 1999/2000 UEFA Champions League first group stage.
• The Slovenian title holders are unbeaten in seven home European games, since a 1-0 loss against SV Zulte Waregem in the UEFA Europa League group stage in December 2013. Their home record since is W3 D4.
• In their previous UEFA Champions League group stage appearance, Maribor finished in fourth place with four points, winning 1-0 away against FC Dynamo Kyiv and drawing 0-0 at Leverkusen.
• Schalke's first two games in Group G both ended 1-1, Huntelaar also scoring the equaliser at Chelsea on matchday one.
• A 4-2 defeat at Sporting on matchday four means Schalke have not won in five away games, since a 1-0 success at FC Basel 1893 on matchday two last season. Their record since is D2 L3.
Coach and player links
• Tranquillo Barnetta was sent off in Switzerland's 2-0 win over a Slovenia side containing Jasmin Handanovič and Marko Šuler in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Ljubljana on 7 September 2012; Aleš Mertelj was an unused substitute. In the return, Barnetta's Switzerland won 1-0 with Mertelj on the opposite side and Handanovič an unused substitute.
• Dudu Biton appeared as a substitute when Israel drew 0-0 with Germany, who included Benedikt Höwedes, Sidney Sam and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, in an Under-21 friendly on 13 October 2009.
• Sintayehu Sallalich's Israel Under-21s lost 2-1 in a friendly against Germany, who included Christian Clemens as a substitute, on 24 March 2013.
• Željko Filipović, Agim Ibraimi, Tavares, Petar Stojanović and Mitja Viler are all a booking away from a ban.
• Maribor have won six of their last seven games in all competitions, in the process scoring 21 goals and conceding ten.
• Ten of Luka Zahovič's 12 goals this season have come in home games.
• Bohar struck twice as Maribor sealed a place in the Slovenian Cup semi-finals on 3 December with a 4-2 victory at home to NK Krka, wrapping up a 6-3 aggregate triumph. Maribor are the most successful club in the competition's history with eight titles – double what any other side has managed.
• Stojanovič became Slovenia's youngest ever senior international debutant in a 1-0 friendly loss to Colombia on 18 November aged 19 years and 42 days. In all, there were nine current or past Maribor players in a youthful Slovenia squad.
• Huntelaar, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Marco Höger are all a booking away from suspension.
• Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting struck his first professional hat-trick – breaking the deadlock in the opening minute – as Schalke won 4-0 at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday. It was former boss Huub Stevens' worst defeat as a Bundesliga coach.
• Fabian Giefer was an unused substitute at Stuttgart on his return to action after four months out with an adductor problem.
• Huntelaar scored a hat-trick on 29 November as Schalke bounced back from the Chelsea loss with a 4-1 win at home to 1. FSV Mainz 05. It was his fourth treble in the Bundesliga and took his tally of goals in all competitions for the Royal Blues to 101.
• Schalke have won six and lost four since Di Matteo was appointed on 7 October.
• Joel Matip underwent surgery on 27 November to repair a hairline fracture in his right foot.
• Sam (thigh) and Chinedu Obasi (periostitis) have missed the last four games.
• Julian Draxler sustained a thigh injury after only 11 seconds against FC Augsburg on 25 October and will be sidelined until the end of the year.
• Sead Kolašinac (out since 23 August, knee) and Jefferson Farfán (early July, knee) are long-term absentees. Leon Goretzka (5 July, hamstring) is nearing full fitness.