Manuel Veth –
Schalke vs Bayern Munich – Saturday, August 24, 17:30BST/18:30CEST – Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
After a disastrous season that almost ended in relegation a long rebuild lies ahead for new head coach David Wagner. The size of the task, in fact, became apparent in Schalke’s 0-0 draw against Borussia Mönchengladbach on matchday 1.
Still disjointed at times and with a squad that still lacks significant quality in the early weeks of the Wagner era have been all about finding the players that can be a good fit for the club going forward. As a result, Schalke parted ways with Breel Embolo (Gladbach), Hamza Mendyl (Lille) and Sebastian Rudy (Hoffenheim) have already left the club. Others like Nabil Bentaleb and Yevhen Konoplyanka are also on their way out.
Meanwhile, Wagner is trying his best to convince stars like Weston McKennie and goalkeeper Alexander Nübel that Schalke is a worthwhile proposition. Nübel, in particular, has been heavily linked with a move away to the club and Schalke’s opponent Bayern are one of the club’s interested in signing the keeper.
The Rekordmeister, in the meantime, has been very active in the transfer market in recent days. Spearheading a long list of signings is Brazilian forward Philippe Coutinho. “He is a big star, a win for the entire Bundesliga,” Schalke defender Matija Nastasić said this week.
It is, however, unlikely that Nastasić will face the Brazilian from the very beginning of the match. Bayern head coach Niko Kovač told reporters on Thursday that Coutinho is unlikely to start against Schalke.
The new players allow Kovač to play various systems comfortably. “We played several systems last season,” Kovač said. “It does not depend on the system but on the profiles of players that fill in the positions.”
Kovač certainly prefers the 4-3-3 formation and with Coutinho he now has the ideal player for one of the two half-positions in the midfield line behind the attacking third. Furthermore, Ivan Perišić adds more depth on the left and the centre of the park, which means Bayern now can change formations throughout the game.
At the same time, however, it also increases the pressure on the head coach, with all transfer wishes fulfilled the bosses now demand positive results. Ideally as early as against Schalke but Bayern have always done well in Gelsenkirchen and the Rekordmeister will once again be the favourites on Saturday in the Topspiel.
Schalke vs Bayern Munich – Players to look out for:
Weston McKennie #2 – Schalke
Central midfielder Weston McKennie will be a key player for Schalke this season. Ahead of the season the US men’s national team player was among the candidates for the captain’s armband. Ultimately, Wagner opted to hand the captaincy to goalkeeper Nübel but McKennie will still play a central role both on and off the pitch.
Philippe Coutinho #10 – Bayern Munich
Even with Coutinho not starting on Saturday the spotlight will be on the Brazilian. In fact, it can be expected that Kovač will give the 27-year-old some playing time in the second half but where will Coutinho feature? “The 10 is his best position, but he can also play in other positions,” Kovač said. “Bayern will not align a system only for him, Coutinho doesn’t want that either,” the head coach added. But at the same time it will be up to Kovač to get the best out of a player, who on his day can be among the best players on the planet.
Schalke vs Bayern Munich – Match Stats
- Schalke’s 2-0 matchday 15 victory of the 2010/11 season was their last victory over Bayern Munich.
- In the last 17 games against Bayern, Schalke never had the lead.
- David Alaba has never lost any of his 15 games against Schalke, the left-back won 12 and drew
- Schalke’s home record against Bayern: W12 D19 L18.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Schalke vs Bayern Munich – 1-2
Schalke vs Bayern Munich – Lineups
Nübel – Kenny, Stambouli, Nastasić, Oczipka – McKennie, Mascarell – Caligiuri, Harit, Raman – Burgstaller
Head Coach: David Wagner
Neuer – Kimmich, Süle, Pavard, Alaba – Müller, Javi Martínez, Thiago – Coman, Lewandowski, Gnabry
Head Coach: Niko Kovač
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.