Bayern Munich will look to recover from their draw with Hertha Berlin as they face Schalke 04 at the Veltins Arena on Saturday.

Bayern Munich’s season began on a disappointing note against Hertha Berlin last week. The reigning champions drew 2-2 with the club from the capital, in what was their first match of the 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign. Bayern dropping two points gave Borussia Dortmund the upper hand as the Black and Yellows took an early lead by securing a 5-1 win over FC Augsburg.

As a result, the Bavarians will be keen to bounce back this weekend. But, just like the game against Berlin, this one could be equally tricky as they travel to Veltins Arena to face FC Schalke 04 in tomorrow’s topspiel. This will be the first time the visitors will play after they made two big signings in the shape of Philippe Coutinho and Mickael Cuisance this week.

Schalke, on the other hand, are a work in progress, having drawn their first game of the season against Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend. It was also the first Bundesliga game in charge for their new head coach David Wagner, who was previously the manager of Premier League outfit Huddersfield Town.

The Royal Blues lacked precision against Gladbach in the attack. But, they must make full use of their chances against a Bayern side, who will restrict them from having too many clear-cut opportunities. They will also have to shore up their defensive department.

And here, at the Hard Tackle, we run the rule over the two sides ahead of this enticing Bundesliga match-up this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

FC Schalke 04

Wagner is unlikely to make any notable changes to the side that drew with Gladbach last weekend. That means Guido Burgstaller will continue to spearhead the Royal Blue attack. The 30-year-old will be complemented by the creative trio of Benito Raman, Amine Harit and Daniel Caligiuri.

Solid and composed! (Photo courtesy - Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images)

Burgstaller’s competent nature could be key in Schalke’s first line of press. (Photo courtesy – Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images)

Raman, in particular, missed an excellent opportunity to score the winner against the Foals. And the new signing from Fortuna Dusseldorf can’t afford to make a similar mistake this time around. Fabian Reese is another option Wagner could use in the offensive department.

In defence, Alessandro Schopf is in consideration for selection after making his return from injury. But, he is unlikely to get the nod ahead of Everton youngster Jonjoe Kenny at right-back. It will be interesting to see how the Englishman copes with, in what will arguably be his biggest challenge in the Bundesliga – performing against Bayern Munich.

Bastian Oczipka meanwhile is a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank while Benjamin Stambouli and Matija Nastastic will form the central defensive partnership. New signing Ozan Kabak is still not fully fit and will miss this weekend. As for Alexander Nubel, he will remain in goal for Schalke.

And finally, Schalke’s double pivot will be formed by Omar Mascarell and Weston McKennie. Both of these midfielders are quite adaptable when it comes to moving into an attack or a defensive position, and that quality could be useful in dealing with Bayern tomorrow.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Nubel; Kenny, Stambouli, Nastasic, Oczipka; McKennie, Mascarell; Caligiuri, Harit, Raman; Burgstaller.

Bayern Munich

Fans will be excited to see new signing Coutinho make his Bundesliga debut. But, the Brazilian is unlikely to feature in this contest, though he may start on the bench just like Lucas Hernandez. The ex-Atletico Madrid defender will slowly be integrated into the first-team, but at the moment, we expect Benjamin Pavard and Niklas Sule to form the central defensive pairing.

Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho looks on before the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between Liverpool and Sevilla at Anfield in Liverpool, north-west England on September 13, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Coutinho is expected to start on the bench tomorrow. (Photo by Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

Leon Goretzka is another player Bayern Munich will miss out due to injury. He will likely be deputised by Corentin Tolisso, whose return from injury will be a boon for Niko Kovac this season. The Frenchman will accompany Thiago Alcantara at the base of Bayern’s 4-2-3-1 setup.

Serge Gnabry will retain his place in the creative trio, alongside Thomas Muller, who will operate as the Raumdeuter. However, new signing Ivan Perisic could be introduced into the starting eleven, at the expense of Kingsley Coman. The Croatian international missed the first game due to a suspension but is now in contention start versus Schalke.

Robert Lewandowski will continue to spearhead the Bavarian attack. Having netted both of his club’s goals in the draw with Berlin last week, the Polish international will be hopeful of scoring the winner this time around. It will be interesting to witness his reunion with his former Dortmund mate Perisic and with Coutinho likely to start on the bench, it could be an exciting game for the 31-year-old.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Pavard, Sule, Alaba; Thiago, Tolisso; Gnabry, Muller, Perisic; Lewandowski.

Key Stats

  • Bayern are unbeaten in each of their last 18 competitive meetings against FC Schalke. They can only boast a longer ongoing unbeaten run against Werder Bremen (25 competitive matches).
  • Schalke’s last competitive victory over Bayern came on 2nd March 2011 in the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal, when Raul netted the winner and S04 keeper Manuel Neuer helped secure a 1-0 away win.
  • This will be the 99th Bundesliga meeting between Schalke and Bayern. Schalke have both lost more Bundesliga games (52) and conceded more Bundesliga goals (206) against the champions than against any other side.
  • Schalke only took 15 points from 17 games at home last season, the worst return from any Bundesliga side. This was also a negative Bundesliga record for the Royal Blues, as was their eight-game winless run at home at the back end of 2018/19.
  • Schalke are the first team to begin a Bundesliga season with consecutive Saturday-evening games since the introduction of the topspiel timeslot. The Royal Blues have only won one of their last nine topspiel fixtures.

Player to watch

Alexander Nubel

UDINE, ITALY - JUNE 17: Alexander Nübel of Germany looks on prior the 2019 UEFA U-21 Group B match between Germany and Denmark at Stadio Friuli on June 17, 2019 in Udine, Italy. (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

The next big thing in German football? (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)

Dortmund fans will surely be keeping a close eye on this fixture and should Bayern fail to capture all three points again, it could give the Ruhrpott giants a huge advantage during the early stages of the campaign. And Schalke goalkeeper Nubel, in that regard, will be key if the Royal Blues are to salvage anything from this game.

The young goalkeeper had an excellent breakout campaign last season. And due to his performances in the Bundesliga, he was linked with a move to Bayern Munich as well. Therefore, the 22-year-old will surely be looking to make an impression against his potential suitor this weekend.

However, a lot will depend on how Schalke plan to minimise the influence of Bayern’s creative players and most of all, Lewandowski.

Prediction

FC Schalke 0-2 Bayern Munich

Schalke have the home advantage tomorrow. But, they still need time and reinforcements if Wagner is to reinstate defensive stability and organisation in this team. Thus, we expect the hosts to slump to a 2-0 defeat against a Bayern Munich side who will be keen on recovering from awful their early season form.

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