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There were no winners in the matchday 7 opener at the VELTINS-Arena on Friday. 

Leon Goretzka’s 34th minute opener for FC Schalke 04 was cancelled out in the second half by Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey. 

After almost twelve months in recovery, Breel Embolo celebrated his long-awaited return to the starting XI. The Switzerland international, who endured a long period on the sidelines with an ankle ligament injury, began in place of Franco Di Santo.

There were two further changes to the side that faced Hoffenheim last week: Leon Goretzka and Bastian Oczipka coming in for Max Meyer and Benjamin Stambouli.

The Royal Blues sat deep in the opening stages, soaking up the pressure and allowing the guests to control possession. But after 20 minutes and no real chances at either end, it was Schalke’s turn to take command and push forward. Oczipka’s low strike from range, which flew just wide of the far post, was the only notable chance, however.

In the 34th minute, a free kick was awarded 25 yards from goal. After a short discussion, Leon Goretzka emerged as the taker, and the Germany international stepped up confidently to curl the ball over the wall and past Bern Leno for the opening goal.

Yevhen Konoplyanka almost doubled the lead just two minutes later, but for a strong save by the Leverkusen goalkeeper. Julian Brant had the visitor’s best chance to equalise shortly before the break, but Ralf Fährmann denied him with his sharp reflexes.

The Werkself pushed higher up the pitch in the second half in an attempt to put the Schalke defence under pressure. Goretzka was handed a golden opportunity to double his tally and the lead, but was unable to keep the ball down.

The spurned chance proved to be a critical moment in the match, as just five minutes later it was 1-1; substitute Bailey’s strike taking a decisive deflection of Matija Nastasic and looping over the helpless Fährmmnan. 

Ten minutes later, the ball was back in the Royal Blues‘ net, but fortunately Lucas Alario’s goal was ruled out for offside thanks to a video-assist decision. Both sides had several half chances to snatch a winner, but in the end the 1-1 draw was the fair result. 

The next Bundesliga match for the Royal Blues is on Saturday, 14th October (15:30 CEST) away at Hertha BSC. Before then, there are two more FIFA World Cup qualifiers on the agenda for several Schalke players.

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