Bayern Munich vs Schalke 04
The champions are on a run of four straight wins as they welcome Schalke to town chasing a 100thleague victory over their opponents.
It’s second versus fifth in the Bundesliga and the smart money – not to mention the SBOTOP Bundesliga – remains on Bayern Munich clinching an eighth successive league title.
The dominant force in Germany have rarely been out of the Bundesliga news limelight this term andthey are slowly working their way back towards top form – as shown by last weekend’s 4-0 triumph over Hertha Berlin.
Yet, Schalke are no pushovers and, under the guidance of former Huddersfield coach David Wagner, have already equalled their points total from the whole of last season after just 18 games.
They head to Munich full of confidence after a commanding 2-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach in their opening game of 2020.
That victory dealt a blow to Monchengladbach’s title aspirations but also lifted Schalke’s own outside hopes.
Germany international Suat Serdar is the Royal Blues’ top scorer from midfield after netting his seventh of the campaign in that victory before new arrival from Augsburg, Michael Gregoritsch, wrapped it up to leave the Gelsenkirchen club just three points off Bayern.
Team news wise, Amine Harit is expected back for the trip to Bavaria after a thigh problem last week. But Benito Raman is struggling with flu and goalkeeper Alexander Nübel, who will join Bayern in the summer, is suspended so Markus Schubert will continue in net.
Serdar has scored seven goals this season for Schalke – a personal best in the Bundesliga. All of those strikes have given the Royal Blues the lead, which is a league best together with Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski and Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Rouwen Hennings.
Oh yes, Lewandowski!
His goalscoring record is quite phenomenal and he leads the Bundesliga scoring chart alongside leaders RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner with 20 goals each. A goal in this game would see him move level with Gerd Müller’s all-time recordof 21 goals from 19 matches, a record which goes back to the 1972/73 season.
The Poland international scored his first Bundesliga goals for both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern against Schalke. He has now netted in his last eight league games against the Royal Blues (11 goals in total). The only player in Bundesliga history to score in nine consecutive matches against a single opponent was Klaus Fischer against VfB Stuttgart.
No team has conceded fewer goals from open play this season than Schalke (11), but they have given away and conceded a league-high six penalties. Nineteen of Bayern’s last 20 Bundesliga goals have come from open play so a meeting with their nemesis is likely to be the pivotal area of intrigue this weekend.
Thomas Müller has also been chipping in with a Bundesliga-record 12 assists after 18 games and have strengthened by adding defensive reinforcements with right-back Alvaro Odriozola joining on loan from Real Madrid.
That move should allow Joshua Kimmich, who’s available again following suspension, and Benjamin Pavard to play in their preferred central midfield and centre-back positions respectively. But it may be too soon for the Spain international to start after just a few days training with his new team, meaning Pavard remains at right-back for now.
Serge Gnabry may have to settle for a place on the bench after his Achilles tendon injury.
They also have 18year-old Joshua Zirkzee to call upon if needed, a young Dutchman who made an impactful debut minutes into his Bundesliga debut.
Strength in depth and genuine class points to another home win.
Bayern are actually unbeaten in 19 competitive matches against Schalke stretching back to a 1-0 DFB Cup semi-final loss in 2011.
Manuel Neuer was in goal for Schalke that day and the current Bayern captain is yet to lose in 14 games against his hometown club, conceding just five goals.
Earlier this season in the reverse fixture, Bayern ran out 3-0 winners at Schalke thanks to a Lewandowski hat-trick.
They also won this corresponding fixture last term when the prolific Pole was again on target, along with Gnabry and an own goal in a 3-1 win.
Schalke replied through Ahmed Kutucu.
In fact, after five straight wins, the last time Schalke managed to take any points off Munich was in February 2017 when Lewandowski found the net but Naldo’s reply earned them a 1-1 draw in the Allianz Arena.
Overall, Bayern Munich have 99 league victories in their clashes with 28 draws and Schalke triumphing on 18 occasions.
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