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Top clash at Schalke

Guardiola: We’ll need a big performance

The off-field action came fast and furious at Bayern this week with the Champions League draw, the vote for European Player of the Year, and two new signings. The fact that the double winners travel to Schalke for the big game of the Bundesliga weekend on Saturday (Live in English from 6.30 pm CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Web Radio) was relegated to the background, at least in the media.

“I’ve read the papers from time to time this week and no-one mentioned the game at Schalke. Not a word!” said Pep Guardiola, who has ignored all the hustle and bustle in the background and meticulously prepared his team for the clash with the side that finished third last term.

“We’ll need a big performance if we’re to win,” warned the FCB coach, “Schalke have very good players and it’s always tough there.” Thomas Müller knows that from experience: “There’s always a hostile atmosphere at Schalke.” That’s specially true when Bayern come to visit, and especially this season, as the Royal Blues can expect unconditional support from the home faithful following their disappointing start to the campaign.

Impressive streak in Gelsenkirchen

Jens Keller’s side were knocked out of the DFB Cup by third-tier Dresden and lost their opening league fixture away to Hannover. “I’ve watched both matches,” Guardiola reported. “Schalke didn’t deserve either defeat. We know what Saturday’s game means to them.”

However, after opening with the 2-1 win against Wolfsburg, Bayern are keen to push on and extend two remarkable streaks: FCB have won the last seven league meetings between the teams, and Manuel Neuer has won all six matches against his former club, conceding just a single goal in the process – and even that was an unlucky Rafinha own goal.

There was positive team news for Munich on the eve of the match. Jérôme Boateng is set to return from suspension and make a first appearance of term, and Franck Ribéry could also be back. The Frenchman resumed squad training last Wednesday and came through the final pre-match workout without any problems.

On the other hand, Arjen Robben is doubtful after taking a knock to the ankle against Wolfsburg; the Dutch winger sat out training this week. Guardiola announced that the week’s new arrivals Mehdi Benatia and Xabi Alonso would travel to Gelsenkirchen. “They’re both fit and they’ll come with us,” he said, although he declined to rate the chances of either man actually making a maiden appearance for the Reds.

Schalke team news

  • Unavailable: Kevin-Prince Boateng (ankle), Fabian Giefer (groin), Sead Kolasinac (cruciate), Leon Goretzka (sprain), Jefferson Farfan (cartilage)
  • Doubtful: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (flu)
  • Captain Benedikt Höwedes: ”We can make good a lot of things in this match.”

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