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Looking forward to an "exciting season"

Bayern begin title defence against Schalke

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FC Bayern kick off the new Bundesliga season on Friday when they host Schalke at the Allianz Arena. And the goal for this season is clear again: “It’s always an obligation at Bayern to be champions. That doesn’t change just because we’ve won the treble,” stressed Hansi Flick at his press conference on Thursday. Unfortunately, the game will have to be played still behind closed doors. We’ve put together all you need to know on the league opener.

Situation for Bayern

Serge Gnabry has warmed up for the Royal Blues in training this week.

Bayern’s last competitive match in the Champions League was just under four weeks ago. It means pre-season was “short but intense”, according to Serge Gnabry. FCB have big aims this season, which doesn’t just include keeping the Bundesliga title in Munich for a ninth straight year. “We’ve got three titles to defend and that job should get off to a good start on Friday with three points,” Bayern’s new No.7 declared. However, the tight schedule will pose ist own problem. “It’ll be a long season with basically three games a week,” Gnabry added, meaning a good start with a win is even more important. “We’ll give everything, have trained well and want to pick up where we left off,” the winger promised.

Leon Goretzka and Jerome Boateng were pleased after a good goal in training on Friday.

The opposition

By contrast, Schalke haven’t played since 27 June and want to put last season behind them as quickly as possible, after the Royal Blues picked up just three points in the entire second half of the campaign. Head coach David Wagner is targeting a new start. “We’ve continually improved during pre-season and have progressed with our work. We’re ready and excited to get going again,” he stated.

Personnel

Leroy Sané could make his competitive debut for Bayern on Friday, against his former club Schalke.

Flick has to make a number of changes to his team compared to the Champions League final against Paris Saint-Germain. Loanees Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Perisic and Alvaro Odriozola have returned to their parent clubs, while Leroy Sané, Alexander Nübel and Adrian Fein are new faces in the squad. Tanguy Nianzou is unfortunately out injured. Kingsley Coman is also out due to his self-isolation at home.

Schalke brought in reinforcements this week with striker Goncalo Paciencia, who joins on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt and will likely feature in Friday’s squad. Vedad Ibisevic was also signed from Hertha Berlin to add further firepower to the attack. Former Bayern man Sebastian Rudy has returned following his loan to Hoffenheim, but midfielder Weston McKennie and goalkeeper Nübel have left Gelsenkirchen. The game comes too early for Salif Sané and Omar Mascarell following their injuries, while Matija Nastasic remains sidelined.

View from the dugout

Hansi Flick: “I’m optimistic for the start of this exciting season. It’s the first game and I’ve told the team it’s not important how big the first step is but that it’s in the right direction. We have to be fully focussed and have intensity in our play. We have to go into the game like we did in ones before. That made us strong. Schalke will try everything to have a better season than last year. They’ll be an opponent seeking their chance.”

David Wagner (Schalke coach): “Everyone wants to get going after seven weeks. It doesn’t get better than Bayern Munich, the treble winners and supposedly best team in the world. It’s a cool game.”

Top fact

Bayern and Schalke have faced each other 100 times in the Bundesliga. FCB very much hold the upper hand with 54 wins to just 18 defeats (D28). The goal tally stands at 214-104 for the record champions. Robert Lewandowski’s 13 goals in this fixture is second only to the legendary Gerd Müller (18).

You can find seven more interesting facts here:

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