Naldo’s exceptional season crucial to Schalke’s success


At the ripe old age of 35, it’s been remarkable to observe what a magnificent season the well travelled Naldo is having for high flying Schalke.

Indeed, the man who’s incredibly three years younger than his masterful manager, Domenico Tedesco, has been superb at the heart of defence, with his leadership and calming influence proving vital in his team’s wonderful campaign so far.

Currently sitting second in the Bundesliga, Schalke have only conceded 30 goals in their 27 matches, a number that is the second best in the division, and Naldo, who’s played in every league game, has been instrumental towards this.

Exuding terrific judgement and enormous clarity in his decision making, the colossal stopper has undertaken his work with the utmost intelligence. Whether involved in challenges in the air or on the ground, this aspect has seen him usually make excellent calls how to deal with whatever the situation requires. He’ll time his leap well to win headers, choose the right moment to chime in with a crucial intervention and even shrewdly know when to hold his post.

This importantly transfers over to the way he tracks his opponents, as he processes scenarios so quickly, knowing when to be touchtight to his man, crossover a marking assignment to a colleague or provide vital cover to support a mate. Taking up ideal body postures, especially when dealing with 1v1 duels, in tandem with his ginormous 198 cm frame, ensures he’s a massive obstacle to get around, and when managing crosses into box. The first graphic below illustrates his astute anticipation to cover the space in behind when Matija Nastasic steps up to mark Wolfsburg striker Landry Dimata. And the second image depicts his excellent orientation to head away a cross from the wing.

Naldo 1

Naldo 2

Leading his team in such metrics as most won aerial duels per game on 5.2 and most clearances per game on 5.3, in combination with his impressive 2.2 interceptions pg and 1.4 tackles pg, aptly highlights his output. Moreover, his five goals and two assists have seen him give the Miners a distinct upper hand in set piece scenarios, particularly due to his aerial prowess and long range shooting skill.

The composed defender’s been so good, in fact, there’s even been murmurings that he’s an outside chance to be selected for Brazil’s World Cup squad. While hopeful of this eventuating, Naldo knows his chances are slim, but vowed to keep doing all he can to catch the eye of manager, Tite. “Yes, that would be a possibility (getting selected for the Selecao), but it’ll be tight. I won’t be at the upcoming friendly games as the head coach didn’t select me,” he insisted.

“It’s almost impossible for me to be involved. But even when the chances are small, I still have hope. I’ll play well every week and then we’ll see whether the head coach will consider me.”

With Schalke desperate to qualify for the Champions League next season and Naldo fighting for a Brazil call-up, their formidable warrior will certainly have a busy end to the season. No matter what happens, though, Naldo, who’s now in his thirteenth year in Germany, can be immensely proud of his achievements this crusade, as he’s proved age is no barrier and let his football do all the talking.

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