The Bundesliga resumes this Saturday, as last season’s champions face their closest challengers from the 2017/18 season. Bayern, who recorded a comfortable 2-0 away win over Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday night, will be looking to continue their 100% winning start to the season.
In contrast, Schalke will desperately be looking to pick up their first points of the season, with three consecutive defeats leaving them languishing in 17th.
If tradition is anything to go by, it seems that Schalke already have their work cut out. The previous ten meetings between the two sides have seen Bayern on the winning side seven times, with the other three score draws. In fact, the last time Schalke beat the Bavarian juggernauts in the Bundesliga was in a 2-0 win way back in 2010.
Flash back to January 26th 2002 – the first encounter between these two at the new Arena AufSchalke – when 60,683 fans bore witness to a Bayern thrashing.
The first 30 minutes of the match had seen little action, but the next five more than made up for it. Emile Mpenza fired past Oliver Kahn to open the scoring in the 34th minute, before Ebbe Sand doubled the lead almost immediately afterwards. As if that wasn’t enough action, the 41st minute saw Michael Tarnat shown a straight red card.
Ottmar Hitzfeld must have believed he had produced an inspiring half time team talk when Munich pulled one back through Mehmet Scholl less than five minutes after the restart, but Jorge Bohome’s strike just five minutes later – restoring Schalke’s two goal cushion – put paid to a budding career in motivational speaking.
Despite the introduction of Claudio Pizarro and a youthful Owen Hargreaves, Bayern were unable to regain a foothold in the game and eventually fell to a 5-1 defeat.
Robert Lewandowski vs Naldo
The simple mentioning of Robert Lewandowski is enough to send chills down a defender’s spine. Scoring twice and assisting once in Bayern’s first three league games, the Polish hitman added another goal against Benfica on Tuesday night.
However, experienced defender Naldo, who has just begun his thirteenth season in the Bundesliga at the ripe age of 35, has the potential to be every bit the match for Lewandowski.
Schalke fans and youth team players alike will feel the impact when Naldo finally hangs up the boots but for now, the Brazilian international – who accumulated more minutes last season than ever before in the Bundesliga – is feeling younger and hungrier than ever.
Capable of striking free-kicks at 78mph and with immense physical strength, if anyone in Schalke’s side can match Lewandowski, it will be Naldo.
Schalke: Domenico Tedesco’s side, who were also in action in the Champions League this week have accumulated no fresh injury concerns but are still without the defensive duo of Bastian Oczipka (groin) and Benjamin Stambouli (ankle).
Sebastian Rudy will be hoping to prove a point to his former employers, as he is likely to feature in the Schalke midfield after his summer move from Bayern.
Bayern Munich: The Bundesliga champions were dealt serious blows in last weekend’s win over Bayern Leverkusen, losing both Corentin Tolisso and Rafinha to long-term injuries, while Javi Martinez hobbled off on Wednesday night and Thiago is struggling with a knock.
Niko Kovac may look to Renato Sanches this weekend, alongside former Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka.
FC Schalke 04 (3-5-2) Fahrmann; Sane, Naldo, Nastasic; Caligiuri, Rudy, Bentaleb, McKennie, Schopf; Uth, Embolo
Bayern Munich (4-3-3) Neuer; Kimmich, Hummels, Boateng, Alaba; Sanches, Goretzka, Martinez; Ribery, James, Lewandowski
Despite Bayern’s recent injury problems, they have the strength in depth to deal with this Schalke side comfortably.
This, coupled with both sides’ contrasting starts to the season, means that this game is Bayern’s to lose. Schalke will have also been dealt a psychological blow after conceding the lead so late to Porto in midweek.
Predicted Scoreline: FC Schalke 04 0-2 Bayern Munich