Bayern Munich will look to get back to winning ways when they host FC Schalke at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
Following a woeful first half of the campaign, it seemed as if Bayern Munich are finally back to their old form, notably becoming the first side in the Bundesliga this season to register seven back to back league wins.
However, that run was put to an end by Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, with a stunning display that saw the Bavarians slump to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat against Die Werkself.
The Bavarians, did, however, manage to register a narrow win over Hertha Berlin in the DFB Cup in midweek and will look to continue on that record as they host FC Schalke, in what will be considered as the topspiel in this week’s round of fixtures.
Even though Schalke have been one of the disappointing teams in the league this season, having secured only 22 points from 20 matches, the Royal Blues have somewhat improved their performance since the turn of the year.
In fact, the visitors are coming on the back of a morale-boosting 4-1 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf in the DFB Pokal in midweek and a promising display against Bayern will certainly help lift their confidence as they aim for a swift recovery during the remainder of the campaign.
And here at the Hard Tackle, we run the rule over the two sides ahead of their mouthwatering fixture this weekend.
Team news & Tactics
Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac will be boosted by the return of Manuel Neuer this weekend, having missed out the services of the German international in the last two matches. He will replace Sven Ulreich in goal.
Minimal changes are expected in defence, however as both Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba are likely to retain their role as fullbacks while Jerome Boateng could once again spend time on the bench this weekend. As a result, Mats Hummels and Niklas Sule will continue featuring at the heart of the Bayern defence.
Leon Goretzka will be given the nod ahead of Javi Martinez in central midfield. And the German international will be keen on making an impression against his former club while Thiago Alcantara will look to continue his good form alongside Goretzka at the base of Bayern’s 4-2-3-1.
James Rodriguez produced a promising display against Hertha in midweek but could make way for Thomas Muller in this one. Serge Gnabry, meanwhile, may start over Kingsley Coman on the right-wing slot while Franck Ribery is likely to be deployed on the opposite flank.
And finally, the Bayern Munich attack will be led by none other than Robert Lewandowski. The Polish international has failed to find the back of the net in the last two matches and will be desperate for a goal against Schalke.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Sule, Hummels, Alaba; Goretzka, Alcantara; Gnabry, Muller, Ribery; Lewandowski.
FC Schalke 04
Domenico Tedesco will miss out on the services of a host of key players this weekend, including Benjamin Stambouli, Alessandro Schopf and Breel Embolo while Guido Burgstaller is doubtful.
Tedesco is likely to deploy a 4-2-3-1 in order to mirror Bayern’s formation, which should see Salif Sane and Matija Nastastic start at the heart of the four-man backline while Daniel Caligiuri and Bastian Oczipka will occupy the fullback slots.
Nabil Bentaleb and Sebastian Rudy are likely to get the nod ahead of both Omar Mascarell and Suat Serdar, although they could provide Tedesco with further options in midfield.
Mark Uth was deployed in a wide-attacking role in the win over Dusseldorf but with Burgstaller unlikely to feature, the former Hoffenheim star could be tasked with the responsibility of leading the Schalke attack this weekend.
As a result, Amine Harit will return to the right-midfield slot and will partner Weston McKennie and Yevhen Konoplyanka in attack.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fahrmann; Caligiuri, Sane, Nastasic, Oczipka; Bentaleb, Rudy; Harit, McKennie, Konoplyanka; Uth.
- Bayern Munich have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 7 matches against Schalke in all competitions.
- Bayern Munich’s last defeat against Schalke dates back to December 2010.
- When Bayern won the Bundesliga last season, Schalke finished second: FCB are eights points worse off than they were 12 months ago; Schalke had 12 more points at this stage.
- Bayern have scored at least 2 goals in 7 of their last 8 matches against Schalke in all competitions.
- There have been over 2.5 goals scored in 9 of Bayern‘s last 10 games.
Player to watch
After switching to FC Bayern in a free transfer last summer, Leon Goretzka has already received a lot of stick from Schalke fans earlier this campaign. And the spotlight will once again turn to the German international as he faces his former club this weekend.
Goretzka has emerged as a first-team regular under Kovac in the past few months and the proactive midfielder will certainly play a key role as the Bavarians look to dominate their opponents this weekend.
Goretzka can not only recycle possession but is also a threat from long-range – making him a definite threat for Schalke in the middle third of the pitch.
Bayern Munich 1-0 FC Schalke
Considering Schalke’s stuttering form this campaign, it won’t be surprising to see the Royal Blues take a cautious approach against Bayern Munich. Thus, we expect this to be a low-scoring game with the Bavarians likely to emerge as the victors largely due to the sheer individual quality within their team.