Johannes Geis's challenge on André Hahn was nauseating to see, and he received a well-deserved six-match ban in the DFB-Pokal and the Bundesliga because of it. One can spin the negative headline into a positive story for one player though: Pierre-Emile Højbjerg.
Højbjerg is in the second month of a year-long loan at Schalke 04, and the second was much more positive than the first. He kicked off the month with a strong 90-minute performance against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League, and has played in every match since (including two starts). With Geis suspended, his playing time could increase, something sporting director Horst Heldt may be hoping André Breitenreiter does.
Breitenreiter has used Højbjerg to inject midfield energy in the second half, but so far has not had the confidence in him to guard the center of Schalke's defense. The former Paderborn manager elected to use fullbacks Dennis Aogo and Sead Kolasinac in midfield instead, which does not come as surprise with Leon Goretzka's limited defensive capabilities.
Højbjerg's energy may be his biggest asset right now with his abilities still needing some development. His chemistry with his teammates is not quite there either, limiting what he could do when he drives the play forward. It doesn't help either that Breitenreiter has had to do a lot of lineup stuffing with three strikers in the squad, which limit the number of midfield spots Højbjerg can take.
The Europa League will be his opportunity to shine though, Schalke going to nearby Prague to undertake the away fixture against Sparta Praha at midweek. It is there where Breitenreiter feels more comfortable playing Højbjerg in a deeper role, one the Dane himself likes to play.
The Buyback Brigade
Alessandro Schöpf, 1. FC Nürnberg – While the second round of the DFB-Pokal included several resounding victories, the one that resonated the loudest was Nürnberg's 5-1 victory over Fortuna Düsseldorf. Schöpf played a big role in the thrashing, collecting two assists – one of which was on a fantastic cross. He is a very good open-play player, and he has above average skill on the ball for a 2. Bundesliga player. He is also helping Austria's U21 team breeze through qualifying, possessing three goals and four assists to his name in just three matches. The Bundesliga may be a level just beyond his skill, but he is the type of player that could help Nürnberg get promoted over the next two seasons.
Raif Husic, SV Werder Bremen II – Two months into the season, Raif Husic has yet to see the field with the 3. Liga Bremen reserves. What is worse is the end (so far) of his national team career after making the UEFA U19 European Championship squad with Germany. Ivan Lucic and Daniel Hundertmark are the young Goalkeepers Bayern seem keen on developing at the moment, which gives the club no reason to activate Husic's buy-back clause at the moment.
Diego Contento, Girondins de Bordeaux – Bayern's sale of Contento was one they could have potentially profited on, keeping half of his rights in case he turned into a special player as a consistent professional. Contento is no longer a consistent professional though, for he did not make Willy Sagnol's team sheet once in October. Bordeaux has many troubles at the moment, sitting 13th in Ligue 1, and Contento is not going to solve any of them. Perhaps top-flight football was not his destiny, and he may be looking a tier below to find more work.
Growing Loan Potential
Gianluca Gaudino – With his father, Maurizio, grumbling at his son's limited chances with Bayern's first team, Gaudino is probably the most likely of the bunch to get a loan. Nearly 19 years old, he is performing well in his first full season in a men's division, playing in all of Bayern II's Bundesliga matches. His playmaking ability is one lower first division and second division clubs can rarely find, and the demand for his services is already there. Bayern may want to hang on to him to try to get the second team back in the 3. Liga, but that stance may change if Jahn Regensburg continue to dominate their amateur opponents.
Julian Green – Though several reserve players could hold their own in higher professional divisions, Green's the only one who has a contract situation that would conceivably make sense. His loan spell with Hamburger SV was a disaster, mainly because it probably came a year too early. He is also playing more as a center forward in recent matches, and his positional inflexibility may close some doors his skill and vertical runs may open. Green may not want one anyways, for he has repeatedly said he wants to remain under Bayern's umbrella.