It wil be an attractive match when Schalke hosts the Reds on Sunday at 11:30 (17:30 in Germany), with the favourites for the Bundesliga title battling against a respected contender. GOL TV has this game live in the U.S. and Canada.
On the Schalke side
It is almost too obvious to say that the return of coach Ralf Rangnick to the fold at Schalke has been a huge gift. The toothless squad that struggled under Felix Magath has turned into an exciting team to watch, with a healthy dose of new blood.
Everybody will focus on Manuel Neuer’s return to the Rhine area, yet they should take a look at his successor, Ralf Fährmann. Despite earlier injury, he should be fit to play, and he is one heck of a keeper, who can make reaction saves that make you think of Neuer. It can sometimes take something special to beat him.
Rangnick himself has admitted that he will have to organize his troops well in defense, knowing what FCB can do with its offensive firepower. The good news for them is that even Raul has made defensive efforts at times.
Schalke’s attack will be interesting to watch. By signing Christian Fuchs at left-back, S04 didn’t just fix a long-term problem. It got a mobile man who adds punch and set-piece quality to the the attack. Marco Höger, at right-back, also helps to make the defensive wings versatile with the ability to go forward.
Rangnick favors 4-2-3-1, which gives more options to attack than the traditional 4-4-2.
Speaking of that, it doesn’t take much effort to say that S04 is dangerous upfront. The combined skills of attackers Raul and Huntelaar, with Farfan, make them a force that can score at any given time.
On the Bayern side
The weather has been sunny in Munich, with five clean sheets in six Bundesliga games, and only one goal conceded. We are looking for improvements, especially the scoring efficiency to put games away faster.
The main question on Sunday will be the mounting number of injuries. Gomez (groin) and Van Buyten (Achilles tendon) are gametime decisions.
Given his form, it would be tempting to play Gomez if given any clearance. I would prefer if Heynckes started with Petersen, who played well against Villarreal. Play it safe for the long term, Jupp!
I would do the same for Van Buyten because you want him to be available later as a quality substitute. I believe Jerome Boateng should be the starter as CB, with Rafinha on his right.
There are no signs pointing to Robben being back in the lineup. Expect Müller to fill in.
Speaking of Boateng, let’s give him a boatload of credit for making the Bayern defense sturdier. He used to turn the ball around with the Nationalmannschaft, but he has been steady so far. Die Bayern need this man to become a defensive powerhouse.
Toni Kroos started to cement a starter position as playmaker. Given the way he played in the Champions League, it would only make sense for Rafinha to start at right-back.