Created on 2019-02-08 at 16:52 PM by Redaktion
The excitement ahead of Saturday match against FC Schalke 04 (watch on FS2 and Fox Deportes at 12:30 pm ET) was clear to see among the Bayern players in their final training session. One reason for that could be Wednesday’s DFB Cup win over Hertha BSC, which saw the Reds into the quarter-finals. “The team showed what they’re made of – the 120 minutes did us no harm,” reflected Niko Kovac.
The team’s performance in Berlin and the way they went about their work particularly pleased the head coach. “The attitude, passion and togetherness were great,” said Kovac. “I expect that again on Saturday. Everything’s gone well and we didn’t pick up any injuries from that game.” With Arjen Robben and Corentin Tolisso still sidelined and Manuel Neuer “unlikely” to feature, there will be little change in the squad.
16 games unbeaten
Another cause for excitement is the fact that the record German champions are unbeaten in their last 16 Bundesliga matches against Schalke (W13 D3). A repeat of the 2-0 win in Gelsenkirchen earlier in the season, when FCB produced one of their best performances of the campaign, should extend that run. Bayern completely dominated that match, keeping their opponents camped in their own penalty area. “The further the opposition are from our goal, the better the chances of us winning,” explained Kovac.
The Royal Blues of course want to prevent that, and their coach Domenico Tedesco claimed that his side are “really up for the game”. Last season’s runners-up are going through a rather tough time at present, though. As well as the death of club legend Rudi Assauer this week, Schalke have problems on the pitch. Last season’s runners-up currently find themselves in 12th place in the table, while they also have several players absent. As well as injured quartet Alessandro Schöpf, Benjamin Stambouli, Steven Skrzybski and Breel Embolo, goalkeeper Alexander Nübel will also miss the trip to Munich following his red card in the last game, while Matija Nastasic is doubtful with a calf problem.
"Have to be able to endure"
In order to overcome that, Tedesco has demanded maximum concentration and commitment from his charges. “You have to be able to endure certain situations,” commented the 33-year-old. Kovac is thus expecting an away team “who will certainly play physical football and defend”. It was no different in Berlin, and the result should be no different this time.