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Memorable debuts at Schalke

Can Coutinho follow Alonso?

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FC Bayern and the whole of the Bundesliga are looking forward to seeing Philippe Coutinho play in Germany. "It's a big deal for the whole of the Bundesliga that we now have the opportunity to watch Coutinho. He'll be by far the best footballer in Germany," said the Hertha Berlin player Marko Grujic who played alongside the Brazilian at Liverpool. The record champions' new signing could make his debut on Saturday at Schalke. The home ground of the Royal Blues would not be the venue for a Bayern debut for the first time.

No teething troubles for Alonso

Let's look back at 30 August 2014. As in this season, FC Bayern were away to Schalke on a Saturday on matchday two (final score 1-1) and the FCB line-up included Xabi Alonso. The Spaniard only passed his medical in Munich on the Thursday before the game and he received his farewells from Madrid on Friday. In the warm-up on Saturday morning he learned the names of his team-mates who he would line up with a few hours later.

Alonso played with almost no training beforehand but he ended up impressing everybody. The then 32-year-old midfield maestro was immediately at the centre of the Bayern game. "You can pass the ball to him in any situation," enthused Thomas Müller after the match. And that's exactly what Bayern did. Alonso touched the ball an impressive 88 times (second highest number in the game), completed 90 per cent of his passes and ran nine kilometres. The trials and tribulations and flights over the previous days took their effect on 68 minutes and the World Cup winner and European champion had to be substituted due to cramp. Up to that point, Alonso had certainly made a huge impression.

Lewandowski scores first goal

That match also saw another first. Robert Lewandowski scored the deserved opener on ten minutes. It was the first competitive goal for the Poland international in an FC Bayern shirt. Lewandowski rounded off a fine attack by Bayern with a one-two with Sebastian Rode to set him off on his hunt for goals. To date he has scored 194 goals and that puts him in third place in the club statistics behind Gerd Müller (508) and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (217).

James’ brilliant display

James Rodriguez accomplished the same feat three years later. The Colombian made it 2-0 on 29 minutes in the 3-0 win at Schalke on 19 September 2017. "I'm relieved I scored my first goal for FC Bayern today. Apart from that, I did have a good game," said a happy James afterwards and he wasn't exaggerating at all.

The loanee from Real Madrid produced a great performance and won the penalty for the opening goal. Naldo was only able to stop his cross with his hand and Lewandowski made no mistake from the penalty spot. The third goal from Arturo Vidal was set up with a delightful chip from James over the defence that allowed the Chilean to find the back of the net with a volley.

Bayern fans and the Bundesliga will now be hoping to see similar from Coutinho and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic talked him up at his presentation. The Arena at Schalke would be a great place to start.

 

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