Created on 09-02-2018 at 15:30 PM
FC Bayern have won all of their last 11 competitive fixtures, eight of them in the Bundesliga. Furthermore, the German record champions are undefeated in 32 consecutive league matches at the Allianz Arena. It is hardly surprising that Jupp Heynckes' men have a comfortable cushion of 18 points at the top of the standings. They are 19 points clear of Schalke 04, wno lie fifth in the table. On Saturday evening (Live in English from 18.30 CET on our exclusive fcbayern.com ticker) the Bavarians take on the Ruhr Valley outfit at the Allianz Arena.
"I'm impressed how ambitious and committed our players are in every single match despite our big cushion in the Bundesliga," declared chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in his foreword to the latest edition of club journal Bayern-Magazin. Rummenigge called the "spirit and character" of the team "top-notch. The team aren't showing even a hint of arrogance or boastfulness, as they're discussing and analysing self-critically" after every match.
That is why the Bavarians aim to continue their streak and pick up where they left off four days ago when they advanced to the DFB Cup semi-finals. "We need to keep up the positive tension for the Champions League and the DFB Cup. We mustn't think we can play at 80 or 90 percent in the Bundesliga. We always have to give it 100 percent, we know that," declared striker Robert Lewandowski ahead of Saturday's encounter with the Royal Blues.
Heynckes 'cautious' regarding Thiago
His coach issued a warning ahead of the meeting with Schalke, where he was head coach from 2003 to 2004. "Schalke have not only played good football this season, they're also flexible and variable in terms of tactics, they can deploy different systems. They're a team with good mentality and good team spirit," said Heynckes, who "as so often" expects "a game requiring patience."
For the first time since Heynckes took over as Bayern head coach, he faces tough selection decisions. "The personnel situation is looking very good," according to the 72-year-old. Apart from keeper Manuel Neuer "everyone's healthy, everyone's fit." However, Heynckes will not select Thiago even though the midfielder has recovered from injury. The Spaniard is set to make his comeback away to VfL Wolfsburg next week. "I'm very cautious in Thiago's case," said Heynckes.
Schalke 'fully focused'
Bayern are on a run, whereas Schalke have made a stuttering start to the year with only four points from their last four matches. A home victory over Weder Bremen last weekend would have meant second place in the table, but they surprisingly lost 2-1. "We'll still travel to Munich aiming to take three points," stressed head coach Domenico Tedesco on Friday.
Tedesco will make an enforced change in defence with Matija Nastasic serving a one-match ban. Thilo Kehrer is set to deputise in Schalke's back three. "We're considering a number of options," commented Tedesco, who might also deploy a back four. In any case, his team are "fully focused" on the match: "We've prepared for them as we would do for any other opponents, we're 100 percent focused. We might as well stay in our beds in Gelsenkirchen if we didn't believe we had a chance."