Created on 20-09-2013 at 14:39 PM
In the traditional “frantic fall”, the challenges in the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Cup just keep on coming. After a successful start in Europe’s elite competition against CSKA Moscow last Tuesday, the men in red confront their next big test on Saturday when they travel to face fast-improving Schalke (Live in English from 6.15 pm on FCB.tv Web Radio). Pep Guardiola's troops aim to extend their undefeated streak to 31 Bundesliga matches, and remain up there with the leading group in the standings.
“We can't expect it to be a walkover,” keeper Manuel Neuer warned ahead of the meeting with his former club. After a “suboptimal start,” when Schalke took only one point from their first three games, the Royal Blues have bounced back and won their last four competitive matches.
No stroll in Gelsenkirchen
“I think it will be a challenge to beat Schalke, especially considering they’re on a roll,” Neuer continued. He has played four times against the Ruhr Valley team since his transfer to Munich in 2011, and all of the games went in Bayern’s favour, with Neuer conceding not a single goal. In total the Bavarians have won their last five matches against Schalke, scoring 14 goals and conceding only one.
However, none of this matters on Saturday. “We know Schalke are performing very well at the moment,” explained the Bayern keeper, calling on his team-mates to do “everything we can to win it,” following two impressive victories at Veltins Arena in the past two seasons. However, if Bayern were to think it will be a “simple kick-about, we’ll be shown how wrong we are,” the Germany international cautioned.
Boateng primed for brotherly battle
“Schalke are on a roll and they’re under no pressure, because we’re the favourites,” Jérôme Boateng declared ahead of the match against the team in ninth, speaking of an “important game” for the Reds. “We have to keep winning in the Bundesliga, as we’re a bit behind at the moment and need the points,” added Boateng, who said he was looking forward to the head-to-head with his half brother Kevin-Prince.
Guardiola has the same squad available to him as for the Champions League match against CSKA Moscow. Bastian Schweinsteiger is expected to start on the bench, just as in the game against the Russians, when he came on after 70 minutes. “It would be too soon [to start],” he himself said on Tuesday evening. Thiago, Javi Martínez, Mario Götze and Holger Badstuber are all sidelined with injury.
However, Schalke will also be missing a couple of players, including Dutch star Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The Royal Blues still boast a “variable attack, with many good individual players,” Neuer warned, referring by name to Jefferson Farfan, Julian Draxler, Boateng and Adam Szalai. Bayern will need a “solid defence” while putting Schalke under pressure. “If we can balance it correctly, we should be able to take the three points,” he concluded.